on April 15, 2007
I held off buying THE LIGHTNING THIEF for a couple years. The market seems glutted with YA fantasy at the moment, and I read quite a bit of it with my 9-year-old. We've discovered several good series, but THE LIGHTNING THIEF seemed too long to hold his attention when it first came out.
This year we noticed it in the book fair at school, then saw that it was an Accelerated Reader book. So I picked it up and read a couple chapters to try it out. I was 50 pages into it when I realized I needed to be reading this to my son.
I did read it to him. We FLEW through the book (375 pages!) in 6 days because he kept pestering me to read it to him. We finished it up in a 5-hour marathon yesterday, hanging onto every page as Percy and his friends tried to save the world and put things to rights in their own lives.
THE LIGHTNING THIEF is a great book for adults and kids. I've already recommended it to a couple of adult friends who experienced the same kind of can't-put-it-down pull that I did.
Percy Jackson, the hero of the book, comes across as every kid you'd ever meet or ever would. He's no brainiac (he has dyslexia and ADHD) but he has friends who are. But he is courageous and clever, stubborn and loyal. He is the best he can be, and he's getting even better.
Riordan works in many of the Greek myths in the novel. There was a time when knowing Greek mythology was a pre-requisite for having a "classical" education. Many morals and philosophies are presented in the tales.
From the very beginning of the novel, we find out Percy is different when he ends up fighting a harpy in the museum while on a school trip. He's been kicked out of 6 schools in 6 years, lives with his mom and step-dad, Smelly Gabe, an evil guy who deliberately makes Percy's life hard.
Then, when he's on a well-deserved vacation with his mom, he finds out he's a Half-Blood, the son of one of the Greek gods. But his mom doesn't know who his dad was and that's just one of the mysteries Percy ends up solving.
The cool part of the book is peeling away all the mysteries of Percy's life and who really took Zeus's magic thunderbolt. Along the way he gains powers that set my son's head to spinning with hope and delight. Percy's a superhero without the costume, and there are plenty of villains in his world.
Riordan is a teacher who obviously loves kids as well as the subject matter. The Greek gods were a cantankerous lot, and Riordan delivers them well. Not only does he give his readers the stories, but he also brings the gods on stage and gives them personalities.
The series is supposed to run for 5 books. I think it will go on longer. I hope so. I've already ordered books 2 and 3, and my son and I are looking forward to them. The books take a while to read outloud to younger readers, but the effort is well rewarded. The story is rich and deep, and will keep your child's attention. In addition, you'd be surprised how much you can talk about even when you're not reading. And your child may just want to wander around the internet learning more interesting facts about Greek mythology.
THE LIGHTNING THIEF is well worth reading and is probably in most public and school libraries.
on October 6, 2008
I am a senior citizen--a librarian--a woman-- who could not possibly be interested in the story of a 12-year-old boy whose ADHD behavior causes him to be moved from private school to private school or that he has momentary lapses when strange behavior takes over or that he finally learns that he is a half-blood (no, not a HP half-blood), but the son of a god. No, I could not possibly be interested in such a far-fetched story, but then again I AM interested in this story because--WOW--what a story!!
Percy Jackson (Perseus at that!) learns in this first installment of The Olympians that he is indeed the son of a god and not some little podunk god, but one of the big three--Poseidon, god of all the seas. As a half-blood, he is given a quest: to find Zeus's thunderbolt. Someone has stolen it, giving rise to the book's title: the Lightning Thief.
If all this seems really strange, then you are normal. After all, we thought Greek mythology was dead. How little we knew, when in reality, it is alive and well and operating in the New West---America. The reader gets so caught up in this new telling of the old myths, ahem, stories of the living gods, that it becomes fresh and vibrant again. In fact, Mt. Olympus is now located on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building and accessible only through a special elevator ticket. You must have an appointment to get there.
Percy Jackson's pursuit of the lightning thief is just plain out fun reading. When I had to stop for any period of time, I couldn't wait to get back to the story. If the reader thinks it unrealistic that a 12-year-old is the hero, then put two and two together. Being a hero does not always take brawn--often thinking, intellect, strategy are required to solve a problem. It doesn't hurt that the hero's father is a god who nudges a bit.
The most exciting stop in the quest is coming before this horribly evil presence. I guessed its identity long before it was revealed (as any student of mythology will), so I am giving away no secrets here.
The most fun episodes occur when Ares, god of war, appears as a big ol' motorcycle punk in a black leather jacket. He must wear sunglasses to shield onlookers from his fiery eyes (literally fiery) and his macho, belligerent behavior. Hey! This is the god of war--how did you think he would act? A new piece of information comes out concerning Ares--Yo, are you paying attention?!!--Anyone in his presence suddenly becomes aggressive and must keep a constant check on his temper to prevent untoward behavior! Reader! Stop looking around--I'm right here on this page trying to tell you about Ares!
Does Percy find the thunderbolt? Do you really think I am going to tell you? Whew, that Ares is something else. Glad he is gone for now!
Anyway, quests usually end well, but not without cost, as is true here. Certain things must be addressed. Certain decisions must be made. Ah, this is all so vague. Whatever happens in Book 1, Percy Jackson is ready for whatever awaits in Book 2: "The Sea of Monsters."
on May 19, 2006
There's always the "what to read while waiting for the next HP" question for some of us, but...now don't get upset folks - I like Harry Potter as much as you do - "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" has a modern, hip, even urban style that people weary of Harry's earnest heroism may actually PREFER.
Plus, people with an interest in legends and myths will bug their eyes out with excitement, because the premise of "Percy Jackson" is that there are a handful of kids who are in fact the children of Greek gods and goddesses, who had come down to dally with modern Americans. These kids, called "half-bloods" in the book, grow up not knowing their origins, alienated by their disjointed lives and absent parents. (A nice conceit of the book is that many half-bloods have dyslexia, but only because their minds are wired for ancient Greek, and ADHD, but only because their minds are wired for hunting, a notion that should give a lot of comfort to real kids with these real problems.) But there are forces of darkness - monsters - whose aim it is to destroy such kids. They are only protected at a special camp - "Camp Half-Blood." Percy, who turns out to be a son of Poseidon, lands at this camp, but must eventually leave it and risk the monsters, to fulfill a Quest.
Even on the basis of this short description you can see there are a lot of superficial similarities to the Potter books - an orphan, with supernatural powers, who has two friends (one brainy girl and one geeky sidekick), several envious rival students. He goes to a special school and learns he is highly skilled at the school's favorite sport (in this case chariot racing). He is personally charged with a quest that, should he fail, will result in the ruin of the world.
Author Rick Riordan almost seems to be teasing the audience with these similarities - but he's having fun with it, and his style and humor are refreshing, humorous, and quite different from Rowling's. (He gets to the point MUCH faster - the action starts on page 1 and never stops!) My 12-year-old son, to be honest, prefers this, and identifies with it more readily. It's a clever enough read for adults to enjoy. Highly, highly recommended.
on March 19, 2006
OK, so I am an 11 year old girl going on twelve. I don't sound like much of a "major" book reader. I hardly read at all! But, this book caught my eye. Once I opened this up to the first page, I was automatically sucked in! Myths, monsters, elegant gods & goddesses! I absolutly love this book. Readers can relate to the personality of Percy Jackson, or just feel their heart pumping when a monster attacks Percy, or even embrace their inner half blood self! I love this book and highly recommend it. Thanks for reading my review!
on March 19, 2009
When I started I expected a pretty good book, and that's what I got.
-The Harry Potter resemblance is evident. It's not as bad as I'd heard, but the influence is clearly there.
-Percy's 'colloquial' narration is sometimes over the top. It just sounds like he's trying way too hard to sound casual.
-For the middle 50% of the book, the plot moves in a pretty episodic way(one monster encounter and then another). It's not necessarily bad, but it does interrupt the central storyline.
-Lots of unrealistically and unstylishly simplified stuff, most especially with some very fortunate coincidences when the characters need them, and some adults who just act like idiots. The worst part is that most of these little plotting slipups are covered up with lame jokes. The main plot is setup uber dramatic. The subplots mostly involve one or two silly escapes, not quite meshing well with the main one.
-Good pacing, decent characterization, interesting ideas, and a good overall balance to the novel. It starts and ends on similar notes, resolving the most important issues.
-Easy reading. It's never ponderous.
-Exciting reading. Despite the Harry Potter discipleship, this book has a lot of good things purely of its own. It's engaging from the very start.
Worth reading, and good enough to be read again. A solid 3.5 stars.
on June 2, 2009
This is familiar territory - an endearing black haired, green eyed 6th grade adolescent with otherworldly capabilities that he doesn't understand is orphaned, his mother lost while trying to protect him (Sally/Lily), left with only grotesque mortals who hate him (Uncle Vernon/Gabe Ugliano) and kids who taunt him (Dudley/Nancy Bobofit), but finds his way to (Hogwarts/Camp Half Blood), which is curiously mostly undetected by mortals (Obliviate charm/The Mist), where he discovers mythical characters (witches/Greek gods) are real; meets with others of his kind (wizards/demi-gods), lives in a (House/cabin) he does not choose but is (sorted/designated) by heredity; drinks from goblets that magically fill themselves (pumpkin juice/cherry coke), and learns that his arrival has been anxiously awaited as he is expected to save his people.
He begins an elementary exploration of his skills, is marginal in most, but shows amazing ability in (Quidditch/swordfighting), acquires a necessary tool (Firebolt/Riptide), connects with a couple of amusing sidekicks (Ron & Hermoine/Grover & Annabeth), learns new communication skills (fireplace/water mist Iris), and is sent on a quest, during which he is beset by attacks from otherworldly evildoers, whose names he mustn't speak (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named/The Kindly Ones), through which he gains opportunities to prove his heroic qualities.
There are Seekers, also Searchers and Keepers; also prominent are trains and portals (platform 9 3/4/600th floor), a teenaged bully with a grudge (Draco Malfoy/Clarisse) and an evil father to back them up (Lucius/Ares), an unexpected flying object (car/shoes), a magical invisibility device (cloak/cap), and the all-important lightning bolt (scar/quest). Harry, uh, Percy, extricates himself and his friends from considerable peril with little training and no skill, surprising himself and others with gifts he didn't know he had, eventually learns his parents aren't really dead, and becomes a hero.
Despite its strongly derivative nature, this Harry Potter-lite book is a fun read, and the Olympian mythology offers a scholarly angle. Although some of the themes mentioned exist in children's literature that predates Harry, the closely-aligned string of parallels is too striking to be missed. While lacking in originality, the characterizations are well done, and it's fast-paced and enjoyable. NOTE: The Text to Speech (TTS) capability is DISABLED on the Kindle version of this book.
Better late than never - am so glad to finally have read this book - from page 1, it is a delightful book - you enjoy seeing the words on the page and enjoy what the story has to say - the plot is great - A young man Percy (Perseus) Jackson, a troubled 12 year old learns that he is the son of an Olympic god! He, for his safety, sent to a summer camp for demi-gods, as they (half-mortal/half god) are called - You know the Greek gods and goddesses, celibacy is not their strong point (with some exceptions - Artemis??) Percy finds friends and finds the identity of his father, and is sent on a quest to avoid a war between the gods. We meet many characters we all know from our mythology books, and like Nightlife of the Gods, Thorne Smith's awesome book, we see more 'human' traits in these gods, making us like them and not trust others.
It is one of the most fun books I have read in a while, and for me to read 125 pages in one sitting is the greatest compliment I can give.
on February 18, 2007
Despite the obvious Harry Potter resemblances, The Lightning Thief is a wonderful, original look at Greek mythology that is actually fun. I recently studied the entire Greek section of a mythology book, an endeavor that took about two hours, only to find I would have had to reread it if I had not first read this. So it has practical uses, too!
Some parts are obviously derived from the myths of Heracles (Hercules to Romans) and Perseus, Percy's namesake, but there are some truly inspired ideas such as the all-healing nectar that takes on a different flavor depending on who drinks it, the idea that Mount Olympus is now at the top of the Empire State Building, Crusty's Mattresses, Cerberus's ball, Riptide the pen that's a sword, and so many others. (I couldn't pronounce Poseidon for the longest time, though, I thought is was Pose-ee-id-on.)
Percy Jackson is, by his own definition, a troubled kid. But he's in no way prepared for the information that he's not just that -- he's a demigod, a hero, the son of not only one of the Olympian gods, but one of the Big Three forbidden to have any more children with mortals: Poseidon, Lord of the Sea, Hades, Lord of the Underworld, and Zeus, Lord of the Sky. (Three guesses what god drowning-immune Percy has as his father.)
So after a battle with the Minotaur that Heracles killed all those years ago in Greece (monsters always resurrect, you see), Percy is ushered to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods. At first, everything seems great, but when it's discovered that Hades has stolen Zeus's lightning bolt to cause an Olympian war, and Percy is blamed for it -- well, of course he has to set off and put things right. And this includes nothing short of fighting a chimaera disguised as a chihuahua, diving from a skyscraper into the depths of the Hudson River, meeting up with the same dear old Medusa that his namesake defeated ages upon ages ago, traveling to the depths of the Underworld to meet Uncle Hades, and making the unpleasant discovery that maybe the identity of the lightning thief isn't so obvious as it seemed...
The highlight of the story is its humor. It really is funny, everything from the chapter titles (I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher; Three Old Ladies Knit the Socks of Death; and I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom come to mind) to Percy's own dry internal monologue. He's just funny.
I'm waiting for The Sea of Monsters to come out in paperback, but since The Titan's Curse comes out shortly afterward I don't think I'll be able to wait for the third one in paperback...
PS. Sorry. Had to add this. If you read this book for no other reason, read it to see the frequency of the phrase, "I uncapped my sword." I mean, really...when are you ever going to get the chance again?
Rating: Very Good
Percy Jackson has always been different from other kids. He's dyslexic and suffers from ADHD, and is always getting into trouble. He's been expelled several times, and the only thing that holds his interest is Greek mythology.
We soon learn that Percy has close ties with Mount Olympus, and when monsters from mythology start popping up looking for his blood, he ends up at a very special school for kids like himself, where he starts to put things together to find out who he really is.
Before he knows it, he's off on a quest with his two friends, Grover and Annabeth, to recover a powerful lightning bolt, property of Zeus, which has been stolen, supposedly by Percy himself. Zeus, Poseidon and Hades are having a little disagreement about the theft of the said lightning bolt, and unless Percy can retrieve it and return it in time, the resulting fallout will have earth-shattering consequences.
This great (albeit relatively unknown) first book of the series is an easy read, and is sure to encourage young readers to improve their knowledge of Greek mythology, especially the stories of the Minotaur, Medusa and the gods Poseidon, Ares, Zeus, Hades, Kronos, Athena and so on. Highly recommended for young readers in search of an original and imaginative adventure series.
on July 28, 2010
Greek mythology has moved to the America's largest cities in the world, creating all new heroes, monsters and adventures in the heart of the country. Percy Jackson is just one of those new heroes, a half-blood (half human half god), trying to make his way in the world that he soon finds out is not as normal as he thought.
Percy is the modern Hercules, first discovering he is half god after being forced to attend the Half-Blood summer camp when it is too dangerous for him to live in the outside world. Gods exist, and the famous Mount Olympus has taken station right in Percy's backyard: the Empire State Building. Percy quickly discovers he is meant for greatness, forced onto a quest to save the world with Athena's daughter Annabeth, and the comical satyr, Grover. Zeus's famous lightning bolt has been stolen and Percy and his friends must get it back, otherwise the gods will be forced to fight amongst themselves creating a World War III. Thus he travels cross-country, encountering various monsters and famous American monuments, to get to Los Angeles where the entrance to the Underworld currently resides.
I enjoyed seeing every new mythological creature or Greek god that showed up, and how they were portrayed in our current modern world. Ares, god of war, is a biker while Medusa who turns anyone who looks at her into stone is a sculptor. Though the situations are dangerous they are also comical, especially if you know the lore behind the creatures. Percy continues to outsmart those around him, but still has faults (such as not seeing what is really going on until it is almost too late). Percy and his friends are a good trio, and their interactions are fun to read.
One of the main reasons I hesitated picking up The Lightning Thief, was the huge hype over how wonderful it was. I was worried I would be painfully disappointed, especially since I am a huge Greek mythology enthusiast, and I just wasn't sure this book was going to meet my expectations. Let me cut to the chase and say I LOVED this book! I can't wait to get the next one.