Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians - The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book One - The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
published by Scholastic, 2005
375 pages
Source: Scholastic Book Fair

Goodreads Description:
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seet to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stole, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves. 

My Review:
Lightning Thief was a very entertaining read, and I think Riordan did a great job with it. I loved the premise of the book - the Greek gods personified in human forms; Riordan embraces the structure of Greek mythology and correlates it all within the new revelations of Percy Jackson, demigod. The plot moved along quickly and made for a very easy read. 

The characters were lovable. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover made a complete trio (similar to the Harry Potter trio, but I don't want to draw too many connections there). Percy, passionate to save his mother; Annabeth, determined to taste battle; and Grover, clumsy yet consistent. I especially loved the Greek characters! Chiron, Charon, Zues, Hades, Dionysus, the satyrs... it was all of my favorite mythology lessons from grade school brought to life. The series is great for young readers to encourage further learning of Greek mythology, at least it worked for me. 

This was a fun read that promoted many conversations with my family members and friends who had read it before. The copy I own is actually a literature circle edition, which encourages discussion and analysis of the book to younger readers. It's a great book to discuss. It might not be overflowing with philosophy and wisdom, but it's very true to young readers. The characters struggle with parentage, friendships, and misunderstandings. Also, the mythology bits are always good to encourage readers to engage with the original myths of the novel's heroes. It's not a mythology lesson, nor is it meant to be, but its a stepping stone to understanding something new - even the realization that once these 'myths' were believed wholeheartedly to be true, and how much has really changed through history. 

I give this book four foxes. It's a good book for middle grade readers to engage with, but its still entertaining enough for the rest of us who just want to read a good story. Interaction with Greek mythology was playful and tasteful, and the characters were likable enough to keep the story interesting. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.  

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