Jan 18 2010
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1)
by Rick Riordan
Let me just say that I adored this book! Set in a world where the Greek Gods still exist (in a manner of speaking), The Lightning Thief tells the tale of 12-year-old Percy Jackson, who after years of being a bad seed, realizes there might be more to his problems than dyslexia and ADD. Trouble has always seemed to follow Percy wherever he goes, despite how hard he tries to avoid unwanted attention. Then when his mother takes him on a summer vacation, trouble comes for them in a big way. After battling an unbelievable creature, Percy finds himself thrust into a strange world that seems impossible, but just might explain the strange things that keep happening in his life.
I’ve always loved the stories of the Greek gods, and by weaving them into the tale of Percy Jackson, Riordan has created a magnificent world that feels entirely possible because so much of it is familiar to us. I even spent time learning (or re-learning) the stories of the Gods, because I found it really added to my enjoyment of the book once I was up on the tales that were being referenced. There’s hardly a dull moment in the story, and by doling out bits of information slowly, the author ensures that we’re always wanting more. I really liked all of the characters in The Lightning Thief, and enjoyed learning the back-stories of Annabeth and Grover. I look forward to learning more about Chiron and Dionysus in the coming books.
We’re told at the beginning of the story that Percy is twelve, but I found I had a hard time picturing him as any younger than 16. Which, to me, is a good thing. I love my YA fantasy series, but I don’t like to feel like I’m reading a children’s book, and I believe that The Lightning Thief stands up well as a tale that will appeal to both teens and adults alike.
My one criticism of the story is the glaring similarities to the Harry Potter series. Yet even with the obvious parallels, it somehow doesn’t take much away from this wonderful tale. It appears the author took the shell of the Potter series – magical land known only to those who are part of it; plucky, unaware young hero; whip-smart girl, and loyal boy to aid him in his adventure; wise, knowing elder to offer advice; and a young nemesis – but then filled it with a new world and new characters. While the framework of the two stories is almost identical, I found the similarities stopped there. For example the fact that Percy is a young hero who is uneducated about his world and powers makes him similar to Harry, but Percy is often rude and sarcastic and the character is really nothing like Harry.
For those who are fans of the YA fantasy genre, the Percy Jackson series is not to be missed! The Lightning Thief is an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable read that sets up what looks to be a great series. I already have The Sea of Monsters and The Titan’s Curse, the next two books in the series waiting for me, and I can’t wait to dive in!
- The Lightning Thief is book #3 for the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge.