A week ago, I opened a Rick Riordan book (Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer) and waited for the magic to happen. I waited to be carried away to another world where myth and modern-day reality inter-twined and teenagers could be badass. I flipped through first one page, and then another, anticipating the moment I would be hooked, addicted.
But I made my way to page 20, to page 50, page 103 and I felt…nothing. For the first time,Rick Riordan’s books didn’t completely captivate me. I felt that the humor was trying too hard (and failing even harder). Instead of suppressing snorts and giggles, I was trying not to roll my eyes. Instead of empathizing with the main character, I wanted to shake him. I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and tell him to make up his mind: “Do you want to have a pity party or do you want to be glib?” By the time the love interest arrived on the scene, I was frustrated by the cliches. Sure, let’s have the beautiful girl be violent for no reason- teenage girls everywhere will finally have a positive role-model to emulate and teen-boys will learn to fantasize about “real” women.
I closed the book. I got to a point where I had to say stop.
And do you know how that made me feel? I felt terrible. Disloyal- like a shitty friend.
I felt old and out of touch, like I couldn’t empathize with teenagers any more. This despite the fact that I’m sixTEEN! (and think nothing of randomly capitalising words).
I stewed over it for a while. Was I moving out of my childhood, to become ‘mature’? Was I becoming elitist and snobby? Becoming choosy with my books?
Today I finally managed to kick myself out of my funk. I read books for enjoyment, I told myself. I do it because I love being sucked into new worlds and caring about characters.
There’s nothing to be ashamed about.
So, I shouldn’t feel guilty for failing to be sucked in. It’s not my fault and I’m not hurting anyone by doing it. If nobody’s blaming me, I don’t need to blame myself.
I don’t care if I sound like a cliche: I’m growing up and I’m moving on. I’m not the same person today that I was three years ago when I opened up the Lightning Thief and devoured it instantly. I’m not even the same person I was a couple of months back when I cried when Blood of Olympus was released.
Does that mean I think Rick Riordan is an idiot and his ideas are pond scum? Definitely not. Uncle Rick got me interested in Greek Mythology. His books were an instrumental part of my early teens as I bonded with friends over them and secretly wrote PJO fanfiction. In fact, it’s because I respect him and his writing style so much that I will probably never open another Rick Riordan book.
I don’t want to remember slogging through his books, forcing myself to like them and hating myself when I didn’t. I’d rather have the happy nostalgia of fond memories from his first few books.
It sounds like the end of a relationship, doesn’t it? With lame excuses on one side and heartbreak on the other. But it’s not like that. It’s not like that at all. Uncle Rick’s franchise is stronger than it has ever been before. If the PJO fandom is sad about my departure, it’s secure in the knowledge that there are a million teens and pre-teens out there willing to love it. And I’m not hesitant about my decision. I can’t afford to be because there are a million books out there waiting for my love.
I could hang around, trying to ‘make things work’. But it wouldn’t be good for me, and I respect myself. I’m in a more insightful place today than I was a week ago, and I can finally appreciate this quote:
“Just because I liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of loyalty to who I am as a person, based solely on who I was as a person. To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.”