Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2005)

Percy Jackson #1 The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Publication: Miramax (June 14, 2005), Hardcover, 384 pages / ISBN: 064172344X
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adventure, Action, YA
Rating:
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Challenges: 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge (#6)
First sentence: Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.

Series: Book #1 (you’re here!) | Book #2 | Book #3 | Book #4

I picked this up from the library where I work a little while ago, mostly because the spine was all shiny and silver, and reading the first page made me want to read more. I probably choose around 60% of my books this way, and sometimes they turn out to be duds and sometimes, like in the case of The Lightning Thief, they turn out to be awesomely entertaining and supremely enjoyable.

Summary from Amazon:

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.

I don’t really know that much about Greek mythology except for the very basic things. I do know that a lot of it is pretty gruesome and cruel and that the stories can be made into some awesome movies, but not much else. Luckily you don’t really need to have an in-depth knowledge to enjoy The Lightning Thief, though maybe you might have a bit more fun picking things out you recognize.

“Percy Jackson” is a pretty dreary name for a hero, but it’s strangely adorable and anyway, Percy himself is nowhere near dreary. He’s an excellent narrator, and pretty much exactly what I’d think a modern kid would be like (except maybe he doesn’t swear as much). He’s stupidly naive sometimes, of course, but that just comes with the Greek hero role.

The gods and mythical creatures are quite interesting and not nearly as randy or horrible as they seem in the original Greek stories. We don’t actually see a whole lot of them; the story’s more focused on the halfbloods here, but there are some moments where an insight or two regarding how Greek gods are coping in modern times. Sometimes they can even be funny.

The characters as a whole are quite well done, though sometimes they slip into realms farcical and so become slightly unbelievable. However, I ignored that for the most part because it was, in the context of the story, seriously amusing.

The story is really good– it moves-moves-moves with lots of fighting and other…hero-type things. There’s some sweet moments, too, and some sad ones. Some of the scenes were so thrilling I literally couldn’t breathe, and I suppose that’s as high a compliment as an adventure book can get.

I especially liked the rather clever chapter titles: “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-algebra/Maths Teacher,” “Three Old Ladies Knit the Socks of Death,” “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers,” etc. Like an oracle’s prophesy, they give you a hint as to what’s coming ahead but you don’t fully understand it until the end.

I got the next three books out of the library this week and plan to read them soon; I hope they can keep up with this one because, seriously, it was very exciting.

Also, it’s going to be made into a film! Wonder how that’ll turn out. Lots of computer special effects, probably. I hope they get some good actors, and that they don’t make The Rock into one of the gods. Apparently this kid is going to be Percy; I haven’t seen anything he’s been in, but from the pictures he seems like a good idea. What do you think?

And finally, there’s some wonderfully different covers available. Here’s some of my favorites, and you can find more here.

Percy 1 German Percy 1 Japan Percy 1 NA

Other reviews: Books for Breakfast | Sprinville Library Book Reviews | 21st Century Geeks

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