PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan [Review]

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

What if the gods and monsters of Greek Mythology were not myth but reality? The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan creates a world where this question is answered and the consequences of the Gods’ actions on the mortal world are explored. The novel’s main character, Percy Jackson, finds out that he is a demigod, son of one of the Greek gods. Unfortunately, it also marks him as a target for the different monsters of mythology to come after him. When he makes it to Camp Half-Blood, a haven for other demigods, Percy learns that he has to take on a vital quest and succeed or the entire world will be at danger from an all out war of the gods. As Percy and his friends face monsters, gods, and a national manhunt, they try to solve the question of who is the Lightning Thief?

The Lightning Thief is a great story with good character development and dialogue. At no time does the story feel forced, and the pace works well enough that the reader never feels bogged down in the details. I especially liked the way Riordan wrote Percy, with a good sense of humor about the events around him and even breaking the fourth wall a little to have him directly address the reader. Riordan also does a great job of fitting Greek mythology into the world of today, not an easy task to do without making it seem cheesy or trite. Although some have accused Riordan of copying J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter storylines (see Daemon’s Books take on it here) the story comes off as fresh and I don’t notice it while reading The Lightning Thief.

The book is age appropriate for readers from ages 10 and up because the story is easy to get into and Riordan uses plain, easy to understand language. Even though it’s readily accessible to children, adults will also enjoy the book, particularly the mythology side of the story. This book is the first in five-part series following the adventures of Percy and his friends, so you can jump right into to the next book in the series, The Sea of Monsters. There are also two audiobook versions available, an unabridged version narrated by Jesse Bernstein and an abridged one narrated by Walter Lewis. I would recommend the unabridged version, partly because I really don’t like abridged versions of novels and Bernstein’s voice is a little easier to listen to for extended periods of time.

As has been covered by our sister site Daemon’s Movies, The Lightning Thief is coming out as a major motion picture on February 12, 2010, you can see their coverage here. Daemon’s Books recently attended an event with the cast from the movie, see our write up here. You can follow Rick Riordan on Twitter (@camphalfblood). He also has a website (www.rickriordan.com) where he has announced that he is going to be starting a second separate Camp Half-Blood book series sometime in 2010.

Quotes from Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief: (don’t worry they’re spoiler free!)

“What if it lines up like it did in the Trojan War…Athena versus Poseidon?”
“I don’t know. But I just know that I’ll be fighting next to you.”
“Why?”
“Because you’re my friend, Seaweed Brain. Any more stupid questions?””

— Percy talking with Annabeth

She glanced at the minotaur horn in my hands, then back at me. I imagined she was going to say, You killed a minotaur! or Wow, you’re so awesome! or something like that.

Instead she said, “You drool when you sleep.”

– Percy and Annabeth

“In a way, it’s nice to know there are Greek gods out there, because you have somebody to blame when things go wrong. For instance, when you’re walking away from a bus that’s just been attacked by monster hags and blown up by lightning, and it’s raining on top of everything else, most people might think that’s just really bad luck; when you’re a half-blood, you understand that some divine force really is trying to mess up your day.”

— Percy

“Safety from what? Who’s after me?”

“Oh, nobody much,” Grover said, obviously still miffed about the donkey comment. “Just the Lord of the Dead and a few of his blood-thirstiest minions.”

— Percy talking with Grover

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Miramax Books / Hyperion Books for Children | Pages: 400 | Source: Purchased | Buy on Amazon

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