& Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Publisher: Disney-Hyperion June 2005

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Publisher: Disney-Hyperion June 2005

The Lightning Thief new cover, released in 2014

The Lightning Thief new cover, released in 2014

The Book Itself: To the left is the original paperback release of the first installment in the Percy Jackson series. To the right is the re-released cover, which I like better. It’s more action-packed, more dynamic. And the font is better. And the art is cool. So there.

My Review: 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.

I know, I know. Why am I so late to jump on the Percy Jackson bandwagon? The entire series has been out for years. The spinoff series has been wrapped up. THERE HAVE BEEN MOVIES.

Well, as per my series of posts on writing a series (or as I like to call it, my Series Series), since I have such a horrible memory for pervious installments, it is a good thing I waiting as long as I have to started the Percy Jackson series. It would have sucked to have read five books, six books, only to find out that the seventh is still a year away from release.

And then I feared I was too old for it.  It’s a “Young Readers” or “Middle Grade” book, versus the “Young Adult” fare that I am used to reading lately. So I knew the themes and way the story would be structured would be different. Then again, Harry Potter is considered “Young Readers”….

But I digress. The Lightning Thief is certainly paced for younger readers in that something big happens every. Single. Chapter. The Lightning Thief introduces Percy to so many gods and goddesses and mythical creatures, that I am almost left wondering wait, who else does he have left to meet? Didn’t he just meet all the most important people? Of course I know that there are hundreds of gods and beasties in the pantheon we have yet to meet, and I am sure that most of the major players in this first installment will return in future books, but it feels like A LOT happens, and some character and plot development suffers because of it.

I cannot deny that it is a great book for a younger audience. It takes outcasts and makes them feel important, makes them feel special and that there is more to them than a diagnosis (Percy is dyslexic, but words only swim in front of his eyes because he’s actually suited more to reading Ancient Greek than English). It has wish fulfillment in the world’s most awesome summer camp. It has monsters and a pen that turns into a sword and loyal friends. I would have EATEN THIS SERIES UP 10-ish years ago. But I have read a lot of books since I was 10 years old, and I have read books geared toward a younger audience with better descriptions and characters arcs.

BUT. I’m going to keep going with it. The stories look like they might age as Percy ages – the character’s reactions and decisions might grow with them, and I’m interested to see where Riordan takes the mythology next. They are certainly quick reads, and I never felt as though I should put it down because it was unsatisfying. It’s just…a quick, superficial kind of satisfying. I hope the next books really take off for me.

My Grade: C

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