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The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) Paperback – Unabridged, March 21, 2006
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"Packed with humorous allusions to Greek mythology . . . along with rip-snorting action sequences, this book really shines." -- Horn Book Magazine
"[A] riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
About the Author
Rick Riordan is the author of the first five books in the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: The Lightning Thief; The Sea of Monsters; The Titan's Curse; The Battle of the Labyrinth; and The Last Olympian. His previous novels for adults include the hugely popular Tres Navarre series, winner of the top three awards in the mystery genre. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife and two sons.
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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.
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
The stealing of Harry Potter type scenes, one after the other, bad acting, and a botched story line bugged the h out of me. Can't anyone do a film these days without attempting to copy some scenes from Harry? HP is unique. Are the kids these days too stupid or bored to watch a real Greek myth, instead of the cartoon type characatures?
Perseus was the legendary founder of the Mycenae kingdom and never went to school in the US or went to camp with other kids to learn how to be a demi god. He was of the Perseid dynasty. Look it up. Mycenae was once a mighty kingdom of ancient Greece, and it's ruler Agememnon was considered one of the greatest of them all. It's 8th grade history. Perseus was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians. Perseus was the Greek hero who killed the Gorgon Medusa, and claimed Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea monster sent by Poseidon. This movie had nothing to do with the real classic myth. I mean Las Vegas? Come on. Bad movie, teaches nothing.