Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Disney Hyperion, 2005
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: This is the type of children’s book and adventure story I would read again.
Reviewed by Indiana
No matter my age, I always try to read children’s fiction. It keeps my imagination alive in a way that adult fiction just can’t. There’s also a sense of hopefulness that I just don’t get from adult literature most of the time.
Rick Riordan creates a world that kids can fall in love with and find accessible with plenty of humor and references to books and stories that only adults reading the book with their children might get.
Percy Jackson starts out as an odd tween. He’s dyslexic, has ADHD and is kicked out of almost every school he attends. Percy doesn’t try to get kicked out. Weird things just happen around him. It’s like trouble seeks him out.
During a trip to Montauk with his mother, he discovers the reason for all the unexplainable trouble: he’s half-god. Percy gets thrown into a summer camp for half-gods and learns about more about Greek mythology than he bargained for. He makes a few friends, a few enemies, and manages to anger some other gods along the way.
He is entrusted with his first quest shortly after he arrives at camp. Percy has been blamed for stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt and needs to find it and return it to him before war breaks out.
This quest is where the heart of the story lies.
“The Lightning Thief” is mostly an adventure story with Percy leading the way with fellow half-blood Annabeth and satyr Grover. It’s an exhilarating tale, with plenty of intense characters, near-death experiences, and comedic breaks.
Percy’s dynamic with his mother and stepfather is bit simple, but Riordan makes it believable and integral to the story. Later on in the book, their relationship reveals the character growth of both Percy and his mother. Percy’s relationship with Annabeth also moves the story forward, as she encourages him to go on the quest of a lifetime. It’s also a satisfying relationship in the sense that Riordan doesn’t force the two into some quasi-romance (although there are plenty of moments where this could happen). Instead, Annabeth is a clever character with a sarcastic sense of humor who grounds Percy when needed.
Riordan finds a way to weave Greek myths into the book in clever ways that drove me to look up more about them. He doesn’t make it integral to the story, but he piqued my interest in them.
The only criticism I had on the book was that it read a bit like Harry Potter. Of course that isn’t be a bad thing, but it almost seemed formulaic in the sense that there were three young characters (one “special” boy, one smart girl, and one goofy boy) that go on an adventure to save the magical realm.
That being the case, for Harry Potter fans who are trying to take a break from the series might want to try this one.
Has anyone read the entire series? Are the others as good as the first?