The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is your typical teenager– he lives with his mother, does not know his father, struggles with dyslexia in school, and is routinely attacked by monsters only he can see. As a result, he is moving to a new school– again. Unfortunately, Percy is confronted with unnatural monsters on his very first day and finds himself being rescued by another student who takes him to Camp Halfblood where Percy learns that he is not alone and he is not entirely human either. Percy is a halfblood, the result of the union between a human and a god. No wonder mom never wanted to talk about his father. To make the situation even more complicated, Percy should not exist because all of the major gods agreed not to have children after a prophecy was discovered that a child of one of the major gods would overtake the gods. Percy settles into the empty house for the children of Poseidon at Camp Halfblood and tries to come to terms with all of the changes taking place in his life. He makes friends with several other halfbloods including two other children of the major gods. All three are in danger because the other gods want them destroyed so the prophecy cannot come true. They are only safe at Camp Halfblood, but even that security may be at risk. Now Zeus is missing his master lightning bolt and all hell is about to break lose, pitting all of the gods and their children against one another. The Oracle predicts a betrayal by a close friend and Percy is being sent on a quest to find the bolt and protect his new family from an evil plot to overthrow the gods. Along the way Percy must help his new best friend, Grover–a satyr– find the lost god Pan, avoid the wrath of Clarisse, daughter of Ares, and come to terms with his feelings for Annabeth, daughter of Athena. Part mythology, part drama, the series is pure adventure.
In addition to being a compelling adventure, this first book of the series is also laugh-out-loud funny with witty chapter titles like “I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom” and “We Take a Zebra to Vegas.” Even the most relunctant readers will find themselves smiling at Percy’s wry sense of humor and marveling at Riordan’s use of modern landmarks.
Percy is instantly likable and realistic and his struggle to accept his new life and family is appropriately touching and complex. The gods misbehave as always and everyone has a motive to spark a war between the “Big Three”. All of the characters– god and human alike– are well drawn and three-dimensional. Readers of both genders will relate to Percy and Annabeth, and fascinating characters turn up on every page.
The ultimate conclusion is both satisfying and promising of the series to come. Riordan uses the complexity and familiarity of mythology to create an endlessly entertaining and informative series that will charm even the most jaded readers. Readers with an interest in mythology or history will find this series enchanting, but even relunctant readers will be able to find something to love. Riordan makes a connection between children with ADHD and dyslexia and the demigods or halfbloods that “challenged” readers may find reassuring. I highly recommend this read to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or reading ability, who just wants a great adventure. They will not be disappointed.