Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.
If you were looking for the movie review, click here.
Other books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5
The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is a troubled boy. He’s about to get kicked out of boarding school– again. He’s got attention problems and dyslexia and for some reason, weird things keep happening around him. I’m not talking wizarding weird where you release a snake from the zoo. I’m taking your-math-teacher-just-turned-into-a-Fury-and-tried-to-kill-you weird. So yeah, Percy’s got it tough. And it’s about to get worse. Turns out, Percy’s a demigod, with a powerful father. Zeus’s masterbolt has been stolen and he’s the prime suspect. If he doesn’t get the bolt back before the summer solstice, then bad things are going to happen. Oh, and not to mention that an oracle foretold that one of his friends will betray him. But all that– all of it!– pales in comparison to what Percy will discover on his life-changing quest: a “treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.”
Oracles, Greek Gods, and satyrs– oh my!
(That quoted part was off the back of the book– not my words.)
Well, the movie is coming out soon and I figured I’d get a head start. I am actually only about thirty pages into my re-reading of the book, but I already remember exactly why I liked it. But let me tell you of my meeting with this book first.
When it first came out, I actually considered buying it many a time. But whenever I picked it up and held it between my freakishly long fingers, I thought to myself, “Ri, how much do you really want this?” and then I’d put it back down because I knew I’d be disappointed if the Greek myths weren’t well enough researched. And because the name Camp Half-Blood sounded lame.
Then, three summers ago, my little brother bought the second book at the book fair and borrowed the first and was lying around the house reading it. I scorned him, called the book names. Then I took it from him and began to read. And lo! it was beautiful.
I was reluctant to admit it at first, but I can proudly say now that I am a complete Percy Jackson fan. Here’s why.
First, I love how well researched these books are. Usually, when I read something about Greek myths (which I consider myself fairly well acquainted with) I get frustrated because they mix the Roman names with the Greek, or mish-mash myths (say that five times fast) into unrecognizable blobs that distort the whole story. I have more patience with children’s books that do this, but pre-teens and up deserve the real thing. (I admit, I hold no gripes against the Disney Hercules.) Here, the God and Goddesses were made modern in a way that held true to their original beliefs. Yeah, there was intermarriage between the gods. Riordan doesn’t try to hide that. He kind of masks it, so that you forget. Ares is bloody and rash. Zeus is still a player. Everyone is how they should be– just modern.
It really means something to me that the author took the time to translate the God’s domains into this era. For example, Hermes is still the messenger god, but he runs a sort of delivery service and uses a cell phone. And Apollo, who drives the sun, has a sports car, not a chariot.
It’s quirky things like that that make a book worthwhile.
Okay. Point number two. I really like the characters. Percy is our narrator and he is thoroughly enjoyable to hear from. He doesn’t complain too much, or spend too long thinking things over. He’s funny and brave, but he’s got problems too, such as a short attention span and he struggles in school (which are later explained, but that doesn’t make them go away).
Through Percy’s eyes, we are able to meet the wonderful Annabeth Chase, whose name I hated until I started to really like her. She’s the daughter of Athena and has got brains to spare. But despite that, she makes bad judgement calls and is prey to jealousy and anger. One of my favorite things is when you get a strong female lead that isn’t obviously a strong female lead. I hate it when girls are automatically described as headstrong, or something like that right off the bat. I’d rather see it happen than have it told to me. Does that make sense?
There are other characters involved, like Grover, the satyr, and Chiron (who is till training heroes) and they are all well developed. It takes a couple of books for them to become fully rounded, but they are memorable after reading the first one.
My final point is this: I love the writing. I love that Percy is twelve and in our day and age but Riordan doesn’t try to write in too much slang. Just enough to make it believable but never is it overdone. Also, Percy is so funny. I mean, this book has so many quotable lines. He’s sarcastic and Riordan really takes advantage of the first person narration to pull some great jokes. My absolute favorite thing is how the sound effects are written in. It looks stupid to see an “Arrrrg!” on the page, but it makes me smile every time. However, it is my firm belief that those kinds of sound effects are only suitable in certain types of stories. I mean, it definitely wouldn’t work in say, Animal Farm, but here, totally.
My final thoughts? I love this book. It totally drew me into the series and it’s a great adventure. The myths perfectly mesh with our time and are true to the source material. The writing is funny and easy to read. Sure, it’s no literary classic. But is it worth your time? Yes, yes, yes.
0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…
1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.
2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.
3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.
4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).
5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.
6 and above. What I want my book to be.