My Kyrosmagica Review of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
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.
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1) is the first novel in the Percy Jackson and The Olympian series. The series consists of five novels: The Lightning Thief (2005), The Sea of Monsters (2006), The Titan’s Curse (2007), The Battle of the Labyrinth (2008) and The Last Olympian (2009). It has since been followed by a sequel series of five books titled The Heroes of Olympus.
The Lightning Thief received mostly positive reviews and won awards including the School Library Journal Best Book of 2005.
The Lightning Thief has all the elements to make me purr like a kitten but somehow it left me slightly disappointed. I enjoyed The Lightning Thief but I didn’t love it and that surprised me.
So, a little recap of the story, as I see it. Percy is always getting into trouble. Typical twelve year old boy if you ask me! He thinks his problems are caused by his dyslexia and ADHD playing up. But this isn’t the case, Percy is no ordinary guy, he’s a demigod. He sets off on a quest with a disguised satyr, and the half-blood daughter of Athena, to settle a feud between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Poseidon has been accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt, and unless Percy can return the bolt, there will be a war between the gods. Along the way Percy discovers who his father is, no ordinary mortal of course, and Percy and his companions meet the Furies, Medusa, the motorcycle thug Ares, and various other immortals….
REASONS Why I should have loved it:
I just love myths, and legends. But somehow at times this just seems too far-fetched. Can I say that? When I’m talking about fantasy? Well, I just did! Greek Gods in the 21st Century – Some of it works and some of it fell short of perfect. Can you envisage a modern day Mount Olympus on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building? The door to Hades right there at DOA Recording Studio, somewhere in LA, really? I see what Rick Riordan’s trying to do, giving Greek mythology a modern day voice to entice the younger reader into an awakening interest in Greek mythology. I applaud him for that but maybe for me it was a bit too much…… modernising.
Characters and Narrative Voice.
I struggled to get emotionally involved in Percy’s quest. He’s had a hard life but I’m just not feeling it. Sometimes (not always) he sounds older than a twelve year old. To be fair maybe demigods abandoned by their fathers grow up too quickly, that would explain it.
Parallels to Harry Potter
There are many parallels between The Lightning Thief and Harry Potter, and I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, so this kind of irked me a bit.
Here are some of the similiarities:
Percy’s closest friends are a girl, the half-blood daughter of Athena, Annabeth, and a boy, Grover, a disguised satyr, rather like Hermione and Ron, but in costume.
Percy goes to Camp Half Blood were he trains, this reminded me of Hogwarts, but just different setting.
The camps are divided into different houses which compete against each other in a Capture the Flag tournament. Percy realises his powers in water, and how water can heal him. The Capture the Flag tournament is a dead ringer for Quidditch. Of the two I preferred the fast pace and excitement of Quidditch.
One of the houses has kids who Percy doesn’t get along with, so Slytherin.
Percy and friends use an invisibility cap – invisibility cloak in Harry Potter.
********Spoiler************ Look Away.
***At the end Evil Kronos might be returning – kinda like Voldermort.***
The aspects of the story I liked:
Incorporating dyslexia into the storyline. This is great. This makes dyslexics cool! Dyslexics can read and understand ancient Greek. It’s about time that dyslexics get the attention and recognition they deserve.
The ADHD. Again. Clever. Stop slagging off those kids that can’t concentrate in class. They have advanced reflexes, and are battle ready!
What else did I really enjoy?
The humour. Made me chuckle. Humour rating, 5 crazy stars :
Medusa. I loved this part. Stop staring! Serves you right haven’t you heard it’s rude to stare. Medusa grabbed me by the scruff, while I clamped my eyes tight, shut. You would wouldn’t you? Medusa rating 5 stars !
The Three Furies, especially Mrs Dodds.
The nasty step dad got his comeuppance. Enjoyed this. He deserved it.
The twist in the tale at the end. Of course I saw this coming but nice twist.
My overall conclusion:
This first book in the series is middle grade fiction. I sense that as the story develops the characters will grow older, and find their emotional voice and depth. I would be interested in reading more of this series to see how it progresses. If I don’t I’ll be in trouble as my daughter is a huge Percy Jackson fan!
Highly recommended for readers of Middle Grade, YA, Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure and anyone who enjoys a good laugh. Oh, that’s me!
Difficult to rate. I’m going to settle for 3.75 stars…………
Found this interesting piece of information about the development of the novel on Wikipedia to share with you:
– “Development for both The Lightning Thief and the Percy Jackson series began when Riordan began making stories for his son Haley who had been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. His son had been studying Greek mythology in second grade and asked that his father come up with bedtime stories based on Greek myths. Riordan had been a Greek mythology teacher in middle school for many years and was able to remember enough stories to please his son. Soon Riordan ran out of myths and his son requested that Riordan make new ones using the characters from Greek myths while adding some new ones. Riordan created the fictional character Percy Jackson and his travels across the United States to recover Zeus’s lightning bolt. After Riordan finished telling the story his son asked that his dad write a book based on Percy’s adventures.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lightning_Thief
Some of my favourite quotes:
“My name is Percy Jackson.
I’m twelve years old. Until a few months ago, I was a boarding student at Yancy Academy, a private school for troubled kids in upstate New York.
Am I a troubled kid?
Yeah. You could say that.”
“How did you die?”
“We er….drowned in a bathtub.”
“All three of you?”
“It was a big bathtub.”
“Hades raised an eyebrow. When he sat forward in his throne, shadowy faces appeared in the folds of his black robes, faces of torment,as if the garment was stitched of trapped souls from the Fields of Punishment, trying to get out. The ADHD part of me wondered, off-task, whether the rest of his clothes were made the same way. What horrible things would you have to do in your life to get woven into Hades’ underwear?”
Grover didn’t say anything for awhile. Then, when I thought he was going to give me some deep philosophical comment to make me feel better, he said, “Can I have your apple?”
“The real world is where the monsters are.”
“The sea does not like to be restrained. ”
“Your uncle,” Poseidon sighed, “has always had a flair for dramatic exits. I think he would’ve done well as the god of theater.”
“Words had started swimming off the page, circling my head, the letters doing one-eighties as if they were riding skateboards.”
Have you read The Lightning Thief? Do comment, I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Categories: Book Review