|The Lightning Thief
(Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1)
3.5 / 5
"Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood."
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends -- one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena -- Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
Okay, this book was so much cooler than I expected it to be! I had of course heard the name before, from the popularity of the books and the release of the movie in the past few years. However, I had kind of written it off as yet another Harry Potter-ish fandom, which I wasn’t terribly interested in joining. Luckily, though, I have a coworker who is a big fan of the series and talked me into picking up the first one. Will I read further in the series? Probably not, unless someone presses the book into my hands. (I am also told they get better, which does intrigue me…) Am I glad I read that first one, though? For sure!
I had no idea (despite the series name) that this was a book all about the Greek gods, which is a topic I’ve been fascinated with ever since I was gifted a copy of D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths when I was little. I used to love reading & rereading those stories! What kid isn’t fascinated by the legends of Zeus and his (often petty) pantheon? Which is why I think this story works so incredibly well: those who already know & love the stories will latch onto the books quite quickly and become big fans; those who haven’t yet studied them in school will totally jump at the chance after they’ve become familiar with Percy and his gang! I love it. It makes me understand why these books were so popular with middle-grade reluctant readers. (It helps that Percy is easy to identify with, having been a “problem student” and diagnosed with ADD, which is explained as being one of the things he’s inherited from his immortal parent.)
The book pulls you in immediately by giving you action right off the bat: the reader watches Percy realize something strange is going on...when he slays his algebra teacher with a ballpoint pen. Sounds intriguing, right? And it just gets better! I loved how the author unrolled the story, revealing things to the reader as Percy discovered them. Riordan’s take on the Greek gods and how they have survived (and changed) in this day & age are great - usually amusing and often pretty spot-on. I particularly loved his characterization of motorcycle-riding bad boy Ares!
Cross-country adventures (with quite a few bumbles). Warring gods who might cause the end of civilization. Satyrs who wear fake sneakers. Glimpses of familiar favorites, such as Medusa and the Sirens. Abandoned water parks. Revenge on jerkwad stepdads. And the entrance to the Underworld being located just under LA. What’s not to love?
I think this book (and perhaps the whole series) are a wonderful choice for anyone, but particularly for those young boys who haven’t yet discovered the joys of reading. I can see Percy winning many fans, for years to come.
P.S. I don't know how long this will last, but it appears the Kindle version of this book is $1.99 at the moment!
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