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Rick Riordan – The Lightning Thief

January 13, 2012

168. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2005)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1

Length: 400 pages
Genre: Mid-Grade Fantasy

Started: 30 December 2011
Finished: 31 December 2011

Where did it come from? Purchased from Amazon.
Why do I have it? Oh, man, I don’t even remember. I’m sure I heard about it and said “ooh, Greek mythology.”
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 19 February 2009.

Being the son of
a god comes with more perils
than useful powers.

Summary: Percy Jackson thought he was just an ordinary kid, until one day his math teacher turned into a giant bird-woman and tried to kill him. And then he finds out that his best friend Grover is actually half-goat (the lower half), and has been sent to protect Percy from all of the other monsters that also want to kill him. It turns out that while Percy’s mom is normal enough, his dad is one of the Greek gods of Olympus. Percy finds some temporary safety at a camp full of other kids like him, but nowhere is really safe for him… Zeus’s lightning bolt has been stolen, and he blames Percy’s father. Now Percy is the only one who can find the lightning bolt, and stop an all-out war between the gods.

Review: Starting out, it was up in the air whether or not this book would work for me. I love mythology blended into my fiction (particularly Greek mythology), but mid-grade fantasy adventure novels typically aren’t my favorite. Luckily, however, the mythology won me over, and I had a blast reading this book. Riordan doesn’t just include some token gods as characters, he digs really deep into the mythology, and the way he layers aspects of the myths into his story gives the world he creates a feeling of completeness and complexity. It gave me a thrill every time I recognized some aspect of a familiar myth, placed in the new and creative backdrop of Riordan’s world.

Another reason I enjoyed this book so much was that apart from Percy being only twelve, it doesn’t really read like a mid-grade novel. The number of exclamation points is kept to a minimum, as are the fart jokes, and in general the humor is snarkier than I would have typically expected for this level. There’s actually a nice mix, with both obvious punchlines and really subtle (but really funny) bits of humor that call back to the original myths. At the same time, it also succeeds as an adventure story; Percy’s hero’s quest has plenty of danger and action to go along with the laughs, and there are some decent twists and turns to the plot that keep the story moving. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Great for kids and adults who like a solid fantasy adventure with an Olympus-sized mountain-full of mythology mixed in. Riordan explains the myths behind most of his plot points pretty well, but I still think that people with a decent grounding in Greek mythology will get the most out of this book.

“In his pocket was a set of reed pipes his daddy goat had carved for him, even though he only knew two songs: Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 12 and Hilary Duff’s “So Yesterday,” both of which sounded pretty bad on reed pipes.” -pg. 150

“I’m not sure what I was expecting – Pearly Gates, or a big black portcullis, or something. But the entrance to the Underworld looked like a cross between airport security and the Jersey Turnpike.” -pg. 291

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bunches of them over at the Book Blog Search Engine.

First Line: Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2012 7:46 am

    OOOOooooh Geek Mythology! I’m mean GREEK Mythology. :D

  2. January 13, 2012 1:06 pm

    I’ve only seen the movie and haven’t read the book, but does the original writing say that the entrance to the Underworld was in the Hollywood hills? Or did the movie creators make that up along the way? Curious little detail, that one.

  3. January 13, 2012 5:43 pm

    I will forever love this book because it is one of the books that made my daughter a firm book lover. It’s a lot of fun, and we both enjoyed it. (She was severely disappointed in the movie, though.)

  4. January 13, 2012 9:05 pm

    I’m not sure this is for me, but my son listened to it when he was in college and just loved it.

  5. January 13, 2012 9:51 pm

    The Percy Jackson series is one of my favorite YA series to come out in the past few years. I hope you continue to enjoy them!

  6. January 14, 2012 9:07 am

    There’s some pretty decent middle grade fantasy out there with zero fart jokes and sparse exclamation points — like Icefall by Matthew Kirby.

    Anyways, so glad you enjoyed The Lightning Thief. I remember when I first picked it up I wasn’t expecting to love it but then fell for it. Riordan is quite clever, I agree, with the way he works the myths in.

  7. January 14, 2012 3:43 pm

    I read this book a couple years ago and enjoyed it, but I have never felt inspired to read on in the series. It is weird how that is!

  8. January 14, 2012 6:42 pm

    I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this series. I agree with you – Riordan doesn’t just name-drop or regurgitate old myths. He knows his mythology and he’s not afraid to create new stories with it.

    Side note: I would totally classify this as a mid-grade book, but, oddly, my library has it shelved in the YA section. I’m still trying to figure that one out. All I can figure is they (whoever “they” is) thought teens wouldn’t touch the books if they were over in the children’s section.

  9. Sam permalink
    January 18, 2012 7:49 pm

    Um i didnt catch his other teachers name the one whoi is in the wheel-chair and in camp half-blood becomes a man horse! i know the mean teacher but not the other? can you help? i saw the movie before the book… it was AWSOME! then i read the book.. the new one with a real person on the front cover not a drawing! they are both very good!

  10. May 1, 2012 11:43 pm

    Just read & loved this. Thanks for the review pointing to it!

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