Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: The Lightning Thief

What if your father were a Greek God?

Blurb:  Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek god. I was just a normal kid, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporized my maths teacher. That's when things started really going wrong. Now I spend my time fighting with swords, battling monsters with my friends and generally trying to stay alive. This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky, thinks I've stolen his lightning bolt - and making Zeus angry is a very bad idea . . .


      My son and I had just finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and we both loved it.  However, I was looking for a book that might be a bit easier for him so that we could take turns reading each night at bedtime.   That’s when I discovered the Percy Jackson series.  I quickly read the first half of The Lightning Thief and I found that it was absolutely perfect.

     We had both seen the movie and quite liked it but Nicholas actually wasn’t very keen to read a story he already knew.  However, I assured him that the book and movie are completely different.  I told him that there were more characters and more action.  I assured him that the book was way better than the movie (and I believe that too!).  I told him we could read the first two chapters and that if he didn’t like it we could find another book.  Well, guess what?  We have just finished reading the entire series!

     I’ve always been a bit curious about Greek Mythology so I liked the idea of learning more about it in a reader-friendly way.  As well, my son and I are very interested in ancient civilizations and epic movies so Percy Jackson seemed like it would be a good match for us.  The hook for this story is the that the Greek Gods are real and alive in the present day.  That is a very exciting idea for a book, wouldn’t you say?  Also, the main character suddenly finds out that he has god-like powers - that's the kind of wish fulfillment story that I think everyone just loves.

     I have to say that I like Percy as a character.  He’s a nice kid and it's easy for us to relate to him.  He’s absolutely nothing like the kid in the movie.  Percy in the book is more innocent and sweet.  His confidence does develop throughout the story, but he doesn’t have any of the annoying cockiness that is portrayed by Logan Lerman in the movie (apologies to his fans, but he was not the right choice for this character). 

     I like that the story moves along at a good pace.  Riordan does a wonderful job of balancing the need for description and character development while maintaining the flow of the story.  The Lightning Thief is an adventure so we need it to move along quickly.  I really enjoy books like this because I am constantly wondering what is going to happen next and I look forward to reading it each night. 

     A fun part of the story is the bit that is spent in the demi-god summer camp called Camp Half-blood.  I know it's a little too much like Riordan’s answer to Hogwart’s and he certainly has tried to copy the success of Harry Potter here, there’s no doubt about that.  However, I forgive him.  Yes, it's a bit formulaic, but it works.  My son and I both enjoyed Percy's experiences at camp and even the description of the camp itself made it interesting for us.  Like most readers, we liked to imagine what it would be like to be a demi-god living in a sword-fighting, pegasus-riding, chariot-racing summer camp.   I mean, how cool is that?

     Another thing that is incredible about this book is that the reading level is not that high.  It can be such a challenge to find great stories that are accessible.  Percy is easy to read and I mean that with the greatest respect.  Percy Jackson can serve as a bridge to bigger and better things.  It is the kind of book that can capture a reader’s attention and make him/her want to find other great books to read.  It is also the kind of book that even a really experienced reader can sit back and enjoy. 

     In fact, I think almost anybody would enjoy this book.  However, I highly recommend it for readers who crave adventure stories.  If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll really enjoy Percy Jackson.  If you liked movies like The Lord of the Rings,  Narnia, or Clash of the Titans, you’ll enjoy the entire Percy Jackson series. 

Rating – 8.5/10

SRR Notes:  We already have a complete set of the Percy Jackson books in the SRR so you can grab them as they come in.  A couple of the new hardcovers are held in the Special Collection so  you will need permission to borrow them - just ask Mr. Jason. 

Our generous book angel, Mary, donated the first set of Percy Jackson books and is now sending us a second complete set.  Thank you so much Mary.  This is a great series and it will be in high demand for years to come!


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