Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief


Synopsis: The Lightning Thief, published in 2005 by Disney/Hyperion Books, is the first book in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. At twelve years old, Percy Jackson seems unable to last more than a year in any given school before being expelled. However, he has bigger things on his plate: He soon learns that what he thought was dyslexia and ADHD are actually traits of half-bloods, or children born of a mortal and a Greek god. In addition, he discovers his good friend Grover is not what he seems, either. Through a series of events (that include battling the Minotaur!) they end up at Camp Half-Blood, a place where demigods like Percy go to train. There they meet Annabeth, daughter of Athena. When Percy finds himself thrown into the middle of a dispute between the Greek gods over Zeus's stolen master lightning bolt, the three embark on a quest to return the bolt before the summer solstice.

PROS:

1) Fun modernization of the Greek myths.

I particularly enjoyed Dionysus. As the reluctant leader of a camp for half-bloods like Percy, his brusque demeanor made him one of the liveliest characters, though he didn't have a large part.

2) It moves quickly

The action is non-stop: there are lots of adventures on the way to the final conclusion.

3) Annabeth is down to earth, quick-thinking, and brave.

Smart girls are important! And awesome!

4) First and last several chapters are the best.

Well-written, suspenseful, and tied seamlessly together. In comparison, the middle wandered.

5) Good for all ages, including younger readers.

There are some potentially frightening situations and characters, but there are no descriptions of blood or gore; most every monster Percy fights turns into sparkledust, due to their mythical nature.

6) Served as a very effective spider-smacker. (Sorry, spider!)

CONS:

1) I was never truly worried for Percy, Annabeth, or Grover.

The odds never felt insurmountable. It could have been more gripping in that sense.

2) The action didn't build upon itself.

Percy encounters many obstacles including Furies, Medusa, and a mini-quest from the god Ares, but it seemed like the order could have been switched around and still made sense. (Unlike Harry Potter, where events are reliant on one another).

3) The characters are simple.

While some characters have multiple facets to their personalities, many come across as 2-D. (e.g. Percy's stepfather, or the bullies from Cabin Five at Camp Half-Blood). This might change in the other books.

4) I would've liked to see more women.

In general, all the big players are men (Percy, Grover, Chiron, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, and many side-characters the trio encounters). The women, aside from Annabeth, had relatively small roles (Percy's mother, the Furies, and the sea Nereid). Again, this might be different in the sequels. Alternatively, I would've liked to learn more about Annabeth's backstory.

Conclusion: It's an enjoyable way to pass the time: the writing is casual, the characters are likeable, and there is lots of action. However, I was not riveted. 3/5 (Click here for an overview of my rating scale).

-Bea

FTC: I have no connections to the author, publisher, or other corporations associated with this product. It was purchased with my own money, and this is my honest opinion.




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