Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Disney Hyperion Books
Genre: Children's/YA Fantasy
Includes Table of Contents and first chapter of next novel in the series: The Sea of Monsters
A New York Times #1 Best-selling Series
Source: I purchased this book
(from the cover) "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 seem 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 stolen, 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 thoughts: Compared somewhat to the likes of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a mid-school/YA novel full of adventure, friendship, the trials of school and peers, and Greek mythology. Adults and school age children alike will find something in these pages that is appealing.
I read this book in two sittings. It is, as is usual, better than the film version. In the movie version Percy Jackson is older, maybe 15 or 16, which I thought better suited the developmental level of the protagonist. However, by comparison, Harry Potter was just 11 when he discovered he was a wizard. Percy is 12 in this first book. Having your lead character as young as Percy is portrayed in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, gives a lot of room to grow in future books so it is good planning on the part of the author, Rick Riordan, to age Percy in this manner. Percy does seem older than his years but when one considers he grew up without a real father figure and felt somewhat responsible for his mother, he would, out of necessity and experience, be more mature than his school counterparts.
The Lightning Thief presents the values of friendship, responsibility, trust and honour in a fantasy novel that will especially appeal to boys. Percy faces many trials, terrors and enjoys adventures that strengthen his character while entertaining the reader. With chapter titles like "I Ruin a Perfectly Good Bus", "I Plunge to My Death" and "I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom" even the reluctant reader will be enticed to delve into the pages of Percy's story.
All in all, I enjoyed Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and found it to be a fast and captivating read. I recommend this especially to mid-school and high school teenagers and even tweens. It is especially good to find a book that appeals to such a wide range of individuals, particularly boys. You will find it entertaining regardless of your age.
Book Club Analysis:
The all-round conclusion was that each one of us found Percy Jackson to be an enjoyable read. We all enjoyed the creative chapter headings and the Greek mythology theme. For some, the book surpassed expectations. Some of us had seen the movie prior to reading the book so we had a basic understanding of the concept of the book but were unanimous in noting the book appealed to us more than the movie.
Both dyslexia and ADHD are present in the main character of Percy Jackson. At first, he believes these to be a hindrance to himself as a person and a student but the author has an ingenious perspective. Rather than referring to dyslexia and ADHD as abnormalities, they were indicative of Percy's true identity, that of a half-blood or demi-god.
A character trait that was emphasized was that of parental respect. One of the members said, "I like Percy's rebellious streak and how much he loves and appreciates his mother. There are so many stories, movies, t.v. shows, etc., that portray parents in a bad light so I like how he has a good relationship with his mom." Another said, "I think love was a huge theme in the book. Percy's love for his mother is a wonderful thing."
As all the campers at the Half-Blood camp are divided into cabins appropriate to their parentage, we discussed which of the Olympians we would most like to be and why and which cabin we would be in. One member said she would want to be in Poseidon's cabin because he "created" horses, according to the myths of course, and to be able to communicate with them like Percy can in the story would be so amazing." Another said she would be most like Hera since she values her marriage so much (Hera is the goddess of marriage). "However, since her cabin is empty, I would be in Athena's cabin and would be very happy there." Another was somewhat torn in her response. " ...the idea of being a descendant of Poseidon is certainly appealing but so is the idea of Athena, goddess of wisdom and battle. Wisdom and bravery are necessary traits in many aspects of life and both are desirable. I would like to embody both..."
When asked if we would recommend this book, we all wholeheartedly agreed we would. One of our book club members had read the book four times already! She has read all the Percy Jackson books, plus The Red Pyramid, and just borrowed The Lost Hero from the library. She finds Rick Riordan's books very easy to read and a nice respite from her mothering of four young boys. She doesn't yet read Percy Jackson to her boys as they are not quite beyond the picture book stage yet.
We ended our discussion with the expression that we all wanted to increase the membership in the book club and what we can do to create interest.