I Can’t Keep Track of Time (in Books)

Posted August 22, 2016 by Emz Chang in Investigated / 0 Comments

How you do keep track of the time that passes in books?

Percy Jackson’s birthday was last week. And that lead to the unavoidable discussion of how old Percy is. Google may say that he was born in 1993, but Rick Riordan, Percy’s creator, has stated that Percy, and the rest of the characters in the series, age by book, and not by regular time. So technically, it should be easy to tell how old Percy is.

Wrong. He may have aged a year in each of the books in Percy Jackson and the Olypians, but that logic doesn’t carry over to its spin-off series, The Heroes of Olympus. I mean, if he aged a year a book in that series as well, Percy should be around 21 years old, which to be honest, doesn’t seem right. So how old is Percy? How much time passed in the duration of The Heroes of Olympus?

This brings me back to the whole point of this book. How do you keep track of time in books? Every book is paced differently so time passes differently. Do the events of a book last a year or a couple of days? Do the characters age three months or three weeks?

Usually, I can tell if a book spanned the whole summer or only lasted a week. I just rely on descriptive language and references to real life. If leaves are falling or the weather is getting warmer, you can generally infer that the book is about to venture into a different season. If there’s a lot of talk about how a character is dreading going back to school, I usually assume summer is ending and fall is coming.

But problem is, a lot of times, I miss those cues. Especially since, as a plot junkie, I’m usually more focused on, well, the plot. Weather, time, doesn’t always register on my radar unless it affects the plot or the characters in a particular way. Beyond that, I just get a vague sense of how much time has passed in a book. And often times, after a few weeks, that vague sense is gone, and I’m left wondering, exactly how much time did that book span?

My sense of time gets even worse in series. One, because I have a hard time remembering how much time passed in the second book. Two, not all the books follow the same format.

What I mean is, not all books in a series will pick up right where the last book ended, but some will. That really screws with my head. And to add on to that, while in some series, all the books span a similar length of time, it is not true for all series. Also, even if they do span the same length of time, the pacing is often different. Maybe the beginning of Book 2 is more fast paced than that of Book 1, but the middle is slower than that of Book 5.

Long story short, more often than not, I have a very hard time keeping track of the amount of time that passes in a book, and worse, a series.

What about you?
Are you good at keeping track of the time that passes in novels?
How do you keep track of the time that passes in books?
Also, how old is Percy?

Emz Chang

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