Greek mythology has always been a rich source of characters and exceptional story telling. Given that it ticks all the monster boxes, mythological creatures, and damsels in distress scenarios and has plenty of curses and stories of gods thrown in for good measure, classic Greek mythology books were calling out for a younger audience given the right treatment. These five Greek mythology books for teens are fun reads and an easy way to get into the richness that is Greek history, culture, and mythology.
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The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
In The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan creates an adventure filled world that fits in very nicely with ours. The world of the still-existent Greek Olympian gods like Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Artemis, Apollo, and all the rest is right over America. But it isn’t that simple. Not only are the gods still alive–they still behave like they did three thousand years ago, meaning that although (almost) no one believes in them anymore, they come down from Mount Olympus all the time when they fall in love with a mortal and…well, you get the idea. Their children of the gods are half-god, half-mortal: demigods.
However, it is not only the gods who are alive. Monsters like the minotaur and the manticore still lurk around the earth, and what better snack than a nice, juicy half-blood (another word for demigod)? Half-bloods like Percy Jackson are constantly in danger. To learn the skills to survive in this world, they must go to Camp Half-Blood, a camp with borders so monsters can’t come in. At Camp Half-Blood, they learn sword-fighting, archery, and much, much more. Camp Half-Blood is a paradise for demigods like Percy Jackson.
Percy Jackson is the son of a god, although you’ll have to read the book to find out which one, and that spells danger. Years ago, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, made an oath to stop having young children with mortal women. Chiron, the director of camp, tells Percy it is because their kids were simply too powerful, but hides the truth. The reason the immortal gods made the oath was because Chiron, got a prophecy from the oracle that it would be a child of Zeus, Poseidon, or Hades, that would either save, or bring the downfall of Olympus. Have your teen read this book this summer and you’ll be amazed at how many times a Greek god can come up in conversation.
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Lost Hero is the first fantasy book in The Heroes of Olympus series published by Hyperion Books. Bestselling author Rick Riordan has once again delivered a fantasy world novel of all things mythology with constant adventure, elements of mystery and humor, and will leave readers only wanting more.
Readers are introduced to three new demigod heroes in this young adult novel: Leo, Piper and Jason. Each is the son or daughter of a famous Greek mythological god with unique powers and talents. The three heroes end up at Camp Half-Blood.
Leo has always had a knack for fixing machines and playing with power tools; Piper always found herself in trouble and accused of consistently stealing items like jewelry and even cars; and Jason has amnesia and can barely remember his own name, yet has a rare ability to fly and summon lightening.
The three unlikely heroes find themselves on an urgent quest to rescue Hera, the Queen of Gods, who has been imprisoned by mysterious forces. Hera must be rescued by the winter solstice, leaving the heroes with only four days for their journey. If they fail, the gods of Olympus will be unseated and overthrown.
This great book begins only a few months after the war with the Titans, which took place in the fifth installment of the Percy Jackson series of books, The Last Olympian. Characters such as Annabeth, Percy and even Grover are secondary characters in The Lost Hero and become friends with the new demigod heroes.
The book switches between the three characters every few chapters, giving readers the first person perspective of each. This is unique in Riordan’s writing but is easy to follow along with and allows readers to get to know each of the characters better.
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
Michael Scott draws on the historical character of Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, as well as alchemist John Dee, and historical events such as the Great Fire of London in 1666 to set his own story. The Alchemyst begins when the San Francisco bookshop where fifteen-year-old Josh Newman and his boss work is magically attacked by John Dee and a small army of golems. Although he goes by the name Nick Fleming, Josh’s boss is actually Nicholas Flamel, who is the keeper of the Book of Abraham, which Dee wants. Josh’s twin sister, Sophie, and Perry Fleming (aka Perrenelle Flamel) rush over from the coffee shop across the street in time to help distract the golems, but Perry and most of the ancient book are taken by Dee during the conflict.
Once Nicholas escapes with the twins and a few pages of the Book of Abraham, he begins to teach the twins about the magical world. According to Nicholas, before humans the world was ruled by a group of beings referred to as the Elder Race. The Elders were the basis for mythological gods and goddesses, as well as legendary heroes. Dee is now working for a group of Elders who wish to reclaim their world dominance, called the Dark Elders
Nicholas believes that Josh and Sophie are more than just teens who accidentally ended up in the middle of his war with Dee. Instead, Nicholas is convinced that the twins are destined to fulfill a prophesy in the Book of Abraham to either save or destroy the world. Because of this belief, his primary goal is to keep the twins safe and awaken their magical potential. To accomplish these goals, he introduces the twins to other Elders, including a stay at Hekate’s living tree house. Ultimately, the twins’ fate at the end of The Alchemyst is only part of the battle between Dee and Nicholas, between the Dark Elders and other Elders, and good and evil.
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
The Goddess Test is the debut novel by Aimee Carter, a young American writer, and in this story readers can enjoy a modern adaptation of the Greek myth of Persephone. Within the original myth, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and the Goddess Demeter, and she is kidnapped by Hades and taken to be his queen in the Underworld where he rules as king. Outraged by her daughter’s abduction, Demeter causes a mighty drought and Zeus is forced to bring Persephone back from the Underworld. However there is a catch, and Persephone must spend the Winter months with Hades in the Underworld.
In this novel we see Kate Winters, an eighteen year old girl, move to the town of Eden with her terminally ill mother. Kate does not have much time to do the things an ordinary teenager does as she must care for her mother and worry about how much time she has left with her. Despite her efforts not to become involved in life at her new school, Kate makes friends with James, described as goofy looking with big ears, and Ava, the popular blond girl.
One night Ava convinces Kate to come with her to a party in the woods. This turns out to be an elaborate prank, as Ava brings Kate, who can’t swim, to an area where a river needs to be passed to get out, and then dives into the water leaving Kate stranded. To Kate’s horror, Ava’s prank goes wrong when she bashes her head on a rock and Kate must dive in to save her. But Ava is clearly dead when Kate drags her to shore and a mysterious character named Henry shows up offering to bring Ava back to life if Kate will agree to do something for him in return.
From here the story ensues, and Henry, who is Hades, brings Ava back to life, but informs Kate that she must now come and live with him for the winter months.
The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh
Jack Perdue, fourteen, is accidentally hit by a car as he is walking home from the college campus his father works for. After waking up in the hospital, Jack suddenly realizes that things are not as right with his head as the doctors had thought. He overhears a strange conversation about a ninth level under New York City and sees a man jump out his window several stories above ground. His father, wanting a second opinion, sends him to New York City to see a doctor/friend. After a strange encounter with the doctor, Jack meets a girl his age at Grand Central Station. She offers to take him on an unofficial tour of the train station and Jack soon finds himself on the ninth level below New York–the New York Underworld.
Now in New York’s Underworld, Jack realizes that his tour guide, Euri, is a ghost. Jack, being very familiar with the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, realizes that he has the opportunity to search the Underworld for his mother and bring her back to the land of the living with him. When Jack explains to Euri about his mother’s death, eight years prior and his plans to save her, they both set out to find Jack’s mother among the dead. Jack learns that he only has three nights to stay in the Underworld before he becomes one of the dead himself, and to make matters worse, a three- headed guard dog, Cerberus of Greek mythology, which guards the gates of the Underworld, is hot on his trail.
Jack and Euri, realizing that Jack is able to fly, go through walls and slide through pipes as long as Euri is holding his hand and when they are not running away from Cerberus, they spend their time exploring New York City at night, attending plays, sledding, and visiting several haunts in search for Jack’s mother. During the search, Jack and Euri struggle to keep the fact that Jack is still alive hidden from other ghosts they encounter. If Jack is caught by anyone, he would be killed and forced to stay in the Underworld forever.
Greek mythology books for teens provide a captivating gateway to the rich and timeless tales of gods. These books not only entertain and inspire young readers but also offer valuable insights into the human condition, power struggles, moral dilemmas, and the enduring themes that have shaped Western literature and modern world culture.
Through the adventures of gods, goddesses, heroes, and monsters, these favorite books transport teens to a world of magic, heroism of the Greek heroes, and epic battles. They introduce them to iconic figures of classical mythology of ancient Greece such as Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, Hercules, and Perseus, showcasing their strengths, flaws, and struggles. These mythological original stories offer lessons and a fresh take on bravery, resilience, loyalty, and the consequences of hubris, resonating with young readers as they navigate their own journeys through adolescence. These Greek mythology books for teens might be assigned in school at some point, but if not, make for great summer reading.
If your teen (or you!) is ready to move on to another area of the world, check out these great books on ancient Egypt!