Most people get presents on their sixteenth birthday. I get a prophecy that could save or destroy the world.
That's how it is when you're the son of Poseidon, God of the Sea. According to an ancient prophecy, bad things will happen when I turn sixteen - because I'm the one who gets to decide the fate of the entire world. But no pressure.
This is the one where Kronos, Lord of the Titans, is beginning his attack on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Oh, and the dreaded (and not to mention enormous) monster Typhon is also heading our way. So it's me and forty of my demigod friends versus untold evil . . .
The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.
Up until then, I was having a great afternoon. Technically I wasn't supposed to be driving because I wouldn't turn sixteen for another week, but my mom and my stepdad, Paul, took my friend Rachel and me to this private stretch of beach on the South Shore and Paul let us borrow his Prius for a short spin.
Now I know you're thinking, Wow, that was really irresponsible of him, blah, blah, blah, but Paul knows me pretty well. He's seen me slice up demons and leap out of exploding school buildings, so he probably figured taking a car a few hundred metres wasn't exactly the most dangerous thing I'd ever done.
Anyway, Rachel and I were driving along. It was a hot August day. Rachel's red hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she wore a white blouse over her swimsuit. I'd never seen her in anything but ratty T-shirts and paint-splattered jeans before, and she looked like a million golden drachmas.
'Oh, pull up right there!' she told me.
We parked on a ridge overlooking the Atlantic. The sea is always one of my favourite places, but today it was especially nice - glittery green and smooth as glass, as though my dad was keeping it calm just for us.
My dad, by the way, is Poseidon. He can do stuff like that.
'So.' Rachel smiled at me. 'About that invitation.'
'Oh. . . right.' I tried to sound excited. I mean, she'd asked me to her family's vacation house on St Thomas for three days. I didn't get a lot of offers like that. My family's idea of a fancy vacation was a weekend in a rundown cabin on Long Island with some movie rentals and a couple of frozen pizzas, and here Rachel's folks were willing to let me tag along to the Caribbean.
Besides, I seriously needed a vacation. This summer had been the hardest of my life. The idea of taking a break even for a few days was really tempting.
Still, something big was supposed to go down any day now. I was 'on call' for a mission. Even worse, next week was my birthday. There was this prophecy that said when I turned sixteen, bad things would happen.
'Percy.' Rachel said, 'I know the timing is bad. But it's always bad for you, right?'
She had a point.
'I really want to go.' I promised. 'It's just -'
Series: Percy Jackson
For Ages: 9 - 12 years old
For Grades: 3 - 6
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: February 2010
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.247