Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & the Olympians #1
Genre: Middle Grade, comedy, fantasy
Published on June 28, 2005
Published by Miramax Books
Pages: 375
Read From: 7.28.13 - 7. 29.13

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's 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's 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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes; you can't see the character impersonator's face, I like the stormy colors, and let's face it: a boy carrying a sword while facing what's clearly New York City is rather intriguing.

Characters: Percy is the sort of "guy" character I like, though at twelve he's a bit too young to technically be a "guy." Setting that aside, I really liked him the moment I met him. He has a sarcastic sense of humor, but he isn't cocky and he minds his own business. Trouble quite literally just finds him due to no real fault of his own. He's overall a nice kid who always gets blamed for most everything. Annabeth could have been really annoying, with her "take care of myself" and very blunt attitude, but she doesn't come across as tough stuff at all. She genuinely can take care of herself, she's naturally blunt, and her slight dislike for Percy is only because their Olympic parents have a rivalry. To top off her coolness, Annabeth accepts help when it's offered, and doesn't get all angry at Percy for it. Grover is adorable; I wanted to give him a big squeeze whenever he was sad or nervous. And though Luke really isn't in the book all that much, there was just something about him that screamed "awesome" in a big-brother sort of way.

The Romance: There isn't any!

Plot: Weird things have been happening to Percy his whole life, but nothing as weird as what happens next. While on a school trip to a local museum, Percy's Pre-Algebra teacher turns into a mythological creature - a Fury - and tries to kill him. And his best friend Grover turns out to be a satyr. With creatures dead set on Percy's demise cropping up everywhere, he's forced to flee to a place called Camp Half-Blood, where he learns that he is no normal mortal, but a demigod: the son of a mortal and a god. Outside of the boundaries of Camp Half-Blood, monsters such a minotaurs and chimeras can smell Percy's godly scent and will stop at nothing to demolish him. Inside of Camp Half-Blood, he will be trained - along with other demigods - to fight off such creatures, while he waits for one of the Greek gods to claim him as their son. But when monsters start to appear within the boundaries of Camp Half-Blood and news reaches them that Zeus' master thunderbolt has been stolen, Percy and his friend Annabeth and Grover find themselves sent on a quest that may end in complete disaster. Percy has until the summer solstice - ten days - to find Zeus' master bolt and return it before all-out war is declared among the Big Three: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Along the way, they'll have to fight monsters, decide which gods to trust, and avoid traps. But Percy is constantly disturbed by dreams, and he begins to wonder if everything is as it seems with this quest. The beginning is exciting. It's a great introduction to Percy's personality, and the Reader doesn't really know all that's going on, so it has an element of mystery to it as well. The world of Camp Half-Blood and mixing Greek mythology with modern times is an absolute thrill to explore. It's really fun to see how the Author integrates such things; what would Ares look like in a modern world? Or Medusa and the Minotaur? How would the Underworld operate? While the quest itself is certainly interesting, filled with action and even suspense, part of what made The Lightning Thief so fun is the world building. It's a wonderfully original idea that I just could not get enough of. Percy's dreams keep an element of mystery to events, and the hints of a past quest gone wrong involving Grover, Annabeth, and Luke indicate a deeper backstory that will be explored even more in later installments.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. The first person allows the Reader to be immersed in Percy's amusing humor, and I couldn't have asked for a better narrator to spend this story with. While the writing style itself isn't really all that spectacular, the Author embodies his world and characters with such life that it's easy to ignore. His mythology research is also impeccable.

Content: None. The demigods, of course, are a result of Greek gods sleeping with mortals, but this isn't explored.

Conclusion: This is my third time reading The Lighting Thief, so the twist didn't come as a surprise to me. But I still really love it. The first time I read this book, I suspected what would happen, but I didn't really know that that was how it would go. And it was a great twist. It was the sort of twist that left me sad, surprised, and pleased, because it adds another dimension to character relations. It also proved that this Author isn't afraid to do what is required to make the story great. Some Author shy away from killing characters or making others turn bad, but not Rick Riordan. The Lightning Thief was a favorite when I first read it because it was so original and fun. After several years of having not read it, it was fun to see if my opinion changed at all. It didn't.

Recommended Audience: Guy-and-girl read, ten-and-up, great for mythology fans.

Others in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series:
1)The Lightning Thief
2)The Sea of Monsters
3)The Titan's Curse
4)The Battle of the Labyrinth
5)The Last Olympian

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