Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan

"Wait," I told Chiron. "You're telling me there's such a thing as God."
"Well, now," Chiron said. "God - capital G, God. That's a different matter altogether. We shan't deal with the metaphysical."
"Metaphysical? But you were just talking about-"
"Ah, gods, plural, as in, great beings that control the forces of nature and human endeavors: the immortal gods of Olympus. That's a smaller matter."
"Yes, quite. The gods we discussed in Latin class."
"Zeus," I said. "Hera. Apollo. You mean them."

A few weeks ago when we rented a movie, I saw a preview for the movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief. I had never heard of the series of books by Rick Riordan and was intrigued enough by the trailer to reserve the first book, The Lightning Thief, at the library. This is my somewhat convoluted review. :)

This book is the story of Percy Jackson ... a kid who is in and out of schools and doesn't really fit in anywhere. Between his dyslexia and penchant for finding trouble, he is branded as a misfit. Little does he know, he is a misfit for a good reason. Through a series of misadventures (some with tragic results), Percy finds himself at Half-Blood Camp - a summer camp for children who are half-bloods. Each has one mortal (or human) parent; their other parent is a Greek god or demi-god (think Zeus, Athena, etc.) You can imagine Percy's shock at finding out that the gods of Olympus weren't just the myths that he learned about it his Latin class ... and that he was related to them!

Once Percy finds this out ... and finds out who his Olympian father is ... he is called to embark upon a dangerous (most likely fatal) quest to find a missing object and settle a quarrel against the gods before war breaks out. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction – Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him.

This story is very well written - full of adventure and excitement and an incredibly original storyline, in my opinion. If one enjoys the likes of The Mysterious Benedict Society, the Eric Rex books, Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, etc., then these would be right up your alley. The part that I question is how heavy the books are into Greek mythology. Yes, this is fiction. Yes, the gods of ancient Greek are history and part of any classical education. I'm sure this is something that (down the road) N1 and I will spend some time reading about and discussing. However, there is a difference between studying something and rubbing it all over yourself and letting it become part of you, which is sort-of what happens to me when I find myself in a good book.

All that said, this was a really, really good book. I'm going to hold off final judgment a bit and read the second book in the series, but if I was a parent of a 5th/6th/7th grader, I would preread this series before handing it over to my child.


  1. My kids LOVE those books! My husband has read a few of them alongside them, but I haven't.

    Last year my daughter's Lit class had a Greek Day after reading The Lightning Thief. They ate greek food, built chariots then raced them, and made greek costumes to wear. It was so fun.

    I'm grateful for your opinion though...probably should read them myself!

  2. See, I’m glad for your perspective. I LOVED the book, but my girls are so little I can’t imagine them reading it for a LONG time!

    I love the idea of a Greek Day. That would be a great way to tie it in with school. I’ll have to keep that in mind for down the road when Noelle and I are studying this stuff.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion … I always love getting thoughts from a mom that is a little further down the road that I am. :)

  3. My son is reading this book ,RIGHT NOW! He used to hate reading, would rather play his DS and computer but with this book there is no coaxing to get his required 30 m. of reading done. We did not know it was a movie. Now he can get to see it when he's done.


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