Published by Disney Hyperion Books on March 1st 2006
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.
Lately I’ve been going back to some of my old favorite middle grade books and seeing how my opinions change as I age. So far many of them have held up pretty well so I decided to go back to a favorite I read when I was a little older than the intended audience.
When I read the Percy Jackson books I was already in high school. In fact I had seen the movie first. I know, shock, awe. Admittedly the movie was awful, but good enough that I was interested in checking out out the source material. THE LIGHTNING THIEF is so much better than the poor excuse for a film adaptation the horrors of Hollywood came up with. Still, it is probably my least favorite of the series so I can only give it a 3.5. Take note, though, that it is still a really enjoyable read.
I have always loved mythology. Since I was a kid I have been obsessed with ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, etc. So pull those Gods into the modern world? Yep, I’m down. Riordan’s books are a great way to learn about mythology. If I didn’t know about it before I picked up these books I could have seen myself making the effort to learn more just on the merits of this story.
When I think of Riordan’s books it is not the mythology that stands out, even though it is done so well. What stands out is the humor with which the characters are portrayed. Both the Gods and half bloods are full of humor. The characters are sassy and Riordan makes puns and jokes that will make the reader snort out loud. Fans of mythology get a few little extras, special jokes that those with a little knowledge can enjoy more than the average reader. And those with more than just a casual knowledge? There’s an extra level of humor just for you.
Riordan is an expert story weaver. His plot has been immersed in the myth and humor so that what comes out is a complex and beautiful creation that stands out among many middle grade stories. The Lightning Thief scratches only the surface of this, each book building on the foundation he has laid.
Though Lightning Thief isn’t the strongest of the series, it marks the beginning of a word that has expanded into an incredible literary world. For that alone it deserves praise. The characters are fun and Percy is a fantastic MC to follow around and learn with, the perfect eye into a strange new world within ours.
I recommend THE LIGHTNING THIEF for fans of Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl looking for their next read, middle grade readers and their parents.
I also highly recommend the audio for middle graders with a difficult time reading, especially dyslexic readers who can relate to the characters and their own dyslexia.
What’s your favorite Rick Riordan series? Share your pick in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,