Rick Riordan is the well known tween/teen author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. His books, which merge classic mythology with the modern world, are action packed, funny, and thoughtful. He is also to be commended for consciously including a diverse cast of characters. In Percy Jackson, the main characters may not be that diverse a group (unless you count a satyr as diverse), but many of the background characters are. The demigods who attend Camp Halfblood are from every race and background. The girls are just as competent (if not more so, ahem) than the boys at fighting and strategy. The diversity is even more prominent in the second series of the Olympian world, The Heroes of Olympus. The main characters from whose point-of-view the story is told include a Cherokee Native American, a Chinese Canadian, a Black girl from New Orleans, and a Latino boy. And Riordan makes sure that their backgrounds play into their stories and affect the people they are and will become. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a storyline that centers around a gay young man coming to terms with his sexuality. Amongst the monsters and mayhem, his inner battle is realistic and touching. It is the voice of many a young person working to come out.
In the Kane Chronicles, Riordan again creates characters in out-of-this-world situations with very in-this-world issues. The Kanes are a brother and sister who are biracial. The sister looks white; the brother black, and it affects the chapters he narrates. He is very much aware of the stereotypes given to a black male teens and how he must work to combat them. Dealing with these themes in no way takes the reader out of the story. They are incorporated into character development seamlessly.
Review by Duffy Batzer.