“The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan

14 Feb


I can't believe it took me so long to read a book you all have known about for ages! I guess the idea of young Olympic gods in modern times made me think "The Lightning Thief" would be heavy or boring. I was so, so wrong. This is a clever, fun, action-packed book that expertly weaves ancient Greek myths throughout its highly entertaining narrative. It's about the farthest thing from boring I can imagine. My bad!

Perseus ("Percy") Jackson is the son of a candy store worker and a cruel poker-playing stepfather, whom he calls "Smelly Gabe." Percy has attention deficit disorder and dyslexia, so he's had a rough time just completing the 6th grade at Yancy Academy, his upstate boarding school for challenged students. Most of his classmates and teachers overlook Percy, and he, too, sees himself as nothing special. Yes, there was the small matter of accidentally vanquishing his sinister math teacher Mrs. Dodds during a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but, afterward, all Percy's classmates seem to have forgotten her very existence. Yet again, Percy fades into the background of Yancy life.

Once the school year ends, Percy heads home, accompanied on the NYC bus by his only Yancy friend, Grover Underwood, a scrawny guy with atrophied leg muscles. Grover makes some cryptic statements about being Percy's protector, but none of that makes sense until later, when Percy and his mom are attacked by a minotaur, a part man / part bull creature. Grover is actually one of Pan's satyrs with cloven hooves (!) sent to keep Percy safe. He must get Percy to Half-Blood Hill, a summer camp sanctuary for kids who are half-god and half-mortal. Turns out, Percy's dad was, in fact, an Olympic god, although at first he's not sure which one. Go figure, right? With training at Half-Blood Hill, Percy should discover more about his history and learn how to protect himself from all the bad guys and monsters who are out to get him.

When Percy finds out the gods are viciously fighting over Zeus's stolen lightning bolt, the Oracle instructs him to embark on a westward quest with Grover and his new half-blood friend Annabeth. The group must find and return the bolt to Zeus, lest the world be plunged into all-out war and chaos. Along their journey, Percy, Grover, and Annabeth have tons of adventures, including encounters with all sorts of ancient gods and monsters. What's great is that these old myths are transformed by modern, often humorous twists. For example, god of war Ares is a grizzly biker, Medusa owns a roadside diner with an impressive sculpture garden, and Procrustes, the bandit who stretched folks on an iron bed, now runs a mattress emporium in LA!

I can't recommend this book highly enough to middle school readers, both boys and girls. Not only is "The Lightning Thief" a terrific avenue into the world of Greek myth, it's also a fast-paced, silly, and ultimately heartfelt book in its own right. Two sequels ("The Sea of Monsters" and "The Titan's Curse") will allow you to follow Percy on more adventures, and there's a fourth book, "The Battle of the Labyrinth," due out in May. Enjoy!


Review #1:

I like this book. It's very interesting, and I like Greek mythology. It also has a lot of action.

Review #2:

It's a mythology book with a twist of reality.

Review #3:

This book has a lot of action. The Greek mythology in the book makes it more exciting. It was a great book!

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Posted by on February 14, 2008 in Uncategorized


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