Updated: Jan 20, 2019
Rick Riordan is easily one of the most influential children’s authors of recent memory. His books, from his original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series to his most recent Trials of Apollo, have topped the bestsellers list, with most doing it for weeks on end. And yet, many of his fans have become distanced from his work. Even myself, whose job is to cover the industry and critique new releases, have found his recent books to be just more of the same. His most loyal of readers, who have been with him since the very beginning with the original release of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, have been growing up and maturing into more adult literature. His books, despite racking in millions of copies sold, don’t spark the same cultural impact as his first series did. So what future really lies ahead for author Riordan and what can he do to prevent it?
Recently, in the past few years, the New York Times-bestselling author has put out a new book from one of his mainline series every year. From the concluded Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy to his ongoing The Trials of Apollo, each book can be described as being remarkably similar to his other works, mostly due to there being a clear template. A primary example would be Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer, the first installment in the trilogy, which borrowed heavily from The Lightning Thief. Further detailing can be found in our review here. Essentially, in that volume, the only major differences between it and The Lightning Thief was the names of the characters and the mythology.
In addition to the mainline installments, he has endorsed and even written the releases of coloring books and short story collections. As one would expect, neither of these type of releases has had any genuine impact, outside of making a quick buck for publisher Disney Hyperion. When judging his current slate of releases, it’s not sustainable. There are only so many ways he can dress up the same, exasperated story, before his remaining readers begin to catch on. Riordan needs a major change. He needs a refresher in order to bring a new flair of creativity. And it seems that even he himself also knows it, due to the recently established imprint, Riordan Presents.