Jul 12

The Lightning Thief

Posted by Soliloquy in Books on CD

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school . . . again. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he’s not even sure he believes himself.

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The Lightning Thief

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5 Responses

  • There’s always the “what to read while waiting for the next HP” question for some of us, but…now don’t get upset folks – I like Harry Potter as much as you do – “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” has a modern, hip, even urban style that people weary of Harry’s earnest heroism may actually PREFER.

    Plus, people with an interest in legends and myths will bug their eyes out with excitement, because the premise of “Percy Jackson” is that there are a handful of kids who are in fact the children of Greek gods and goddesses, who had come down to dally with modern Americans. These kids, called “half-bloods” in the book, grow up not knowing their origins, alienated by their disjointed lives and absent parents. (A nice conceit of the book is that many half-bloods have dyslexia, but only because their minds are wired for ancient Greek, and ADHD, but only because their minds are wired for hunting, a notion that should give a lot of comfort to real kids with these real problems.) But there are forces of darkness – monsters – whose aim it is to destroy such kids. They are only protected at a special camp – “Camp Half-Blood.” Percy, who turns out to be a son of Poseidon, lands at this camp, but must eventually leave it and risk the monsters, to fulfill a Quest.

    Even on the basis of this short description you can see there are a lot of superficial similarities to the Potter books – an orphan, with supernatural powers, who has two friends (one brainy girl and one geeky sidekick), several envious rival students. He goes to a special school and learns he is highly skilled at the school’s favorite sport (in this case chariot racing). He is personally charged with a quest that, should he fail, will result in the ruin of the world.

    Author Rick Riordan almost seems to be teasing the audience with these similarities – but he’s having fun with it, and his style and humor are refreshing, humorous, and quite different from Rowling’s. (He gets to the point MUCH faster – the action starts on page 1 and never stops!) My 12-year-old son, to be honest, prefers this, and identifies with it more readily. It’s a clever enough read for adults to enjoy. Highly, highly recommended.

  • I held off buying THE LIGHTNING THIEF for a couple years. The market seems glutted with YA fantasy at the moment, and I read quite a bit of it with my 9-year-old. We’ve discovered several good series, but THE LIGHTNING THIEF seemed too long to hold his attention when it first came out.

    This year we noticed it in the book fair at school, then saw that it was an Accelerated Reader book. So I picked it up and read a couple chapters to try it out. I was 50 pages into it when I realized I needed to be reading this to my son.

    I did read it to him. We FLEW through the book (375 pages!) in 6 days because he kept pestering me to read it to him. We finished it up in a 5-hour marathon yesterday, hanging onto every page as Percy and his friends tried to save the world and put things to rights in their own lives.

    THE LIGHTNING THIEF is a great book for adults and kids. I’ve already recommended it to a couple of adult friends who experienced the same kind of can’t-put-it-down pull that I did.

    Percy Jackson, the hero of the book, comes across as every kid you’d ever meet or ever would. He’s no brainiac (he has dyslexia and ADHD) but he has friends who are. But he is courageous and clever, stubborn and loyal. He is the best he can be, and he’s getting even better.

    Riordan works in many of the Greek myths in the novel. There was a time when knowing Greek mythology was a pre-requisite for having a “classical” education. Many morals and philosophies are presented in the tales.

    From the very beginning of the novel, we find out Percy is different when he ends up fighting a harpy in the museum while on a school trip. He’s been kicked out of 6 schools in 6 years, lives with his mom and step-dad, Smelly Gabe, an evil guy who deliberately makes Percy’s life hard.

    Then, when he’s on a well-deserved vacation with his mom, he finds out he’s a Half-Blood, the son of one of the Greek gods. But his mom doesn’t know who his dad was and that’s just one of the mysteries Percy ends up solving.

    The cool part of the book is peeling away all the mysteries of Percy’s life and who really took Zeus’s magic thunderbolt. Along the way he gains powers that set my son’s head to spinning with hope and delight. Percy’s a superhero without the costume, and there are plenty of villains in his world.

    Riordan is a teacher who obviously loves kids as well as the subject matter. The Greek gods were a cantankerous lot, and Riordan delivers them well. Not only does he give his readers the stories, but he also brings the gods on stage and gives them personalities.

    The series is supposed to run for 5 books. I think it will go on longer. I hope so. I’ve already ordered books 2 and 3, and my son and I are looking forward to them. The books take a while to read outloud to younger readers, but the effort is well rewarded. The story is rich and deep, and will keep your child’s attention. In addition, you’d be surprised how much you can talk about even when you’re not reading. And your child may just want to wander around the internet learning more interesting facts about Greek mythology.

    THE LIGHTNING THIEF is well worth reading and is probably in most public and school libraries.

  • When I started I expected a pretty good book, and that’s what I got.


    -The Harry Potter resemblance is evident. It’s not as bad as I’d heard, but the influence is clearly there.

    -Percy’s ‘colloquial’ narration is sometimes over the top. It just sounds like he’s trying way too hard to sound casual.

    -For the middle 50% of the book, the plot moves in a pretty episodic way(one monster encounter and then another). It’s not necessarily bad, but it does interrupt the central storyline.

    -Lots of unrealistically and unstylishly simplified stuff, most especially with some very fortunate coincidences when the characters need them, and some adults who just act like idiots. The worst part is that most of these little plotting slipups are covered up with lame jokes. The main plot is setup uber dramatic. The subplots mostly involve one or two silly escapes, not quite meshing well with the main one.


    -Good pacing, decent characterization, interesting ideas, and a good overall balance to the novel. It starts and ends on similar notes, resolving the most important issues.

    -Easy reading. It’s never ponderous.

    -Exciting reading. Despite the Harry Potter discipleship, this book has a lot of good things purely of its own. It’s engaging from the very start.


    Worth reading, and good enough to be read again. A solid 3.5 stars.

  • Percy Jackson has always been different from other kids. He’s dyslexic and suffers from ADHD, and is always getting into trouble. He’s been expelled several times, and the only thing that holds his interest is Greek mythology.

    We soon learn that Percy has close ties with Mount Olympus, and when monsters from mythology start popping up looking for his blood, he ends up at a very special school for kids like himself, where he starts to put things together to find out who he really is.

    Before he knows it, he’s off on a quest with his two friends, Grover and Annabeth, to recover a powerful lightning bolt, property of Zeus, which has been stolen, supposedly by Percy himself. Zeus, Poseidon and Hades are having a little disagreement about the theft of the said lightning bolt, and unless Percy can retrieve it and return it in time, the resulting fallout will have earth-shattering consequences.

    This great (albeit relatively unknown) first book of the series is an easy read, and is sure to encourage young readers to improve their knowledge of Greek mythology, especially the stories of the Minotaur, Medusa and the gods Poseidon, Ares, Zeus, Hades, Kronos, Athena and so on. Highly recommended for young readers in search of an original and imaginative adventure series.

    Amanda Richards

  • Better late than never – am so glad to finally have read this book – from page 1, it is a delightful book – you enjoy seeing the words on the page and enjoy what the story has to say – the plot is great – A young man Percy (Perseus) Jackson, a troubled 12 year old learns that he is the son of an Olympic god! He, for his safety, sent to a summer camp for demi-gods, as they (half-mortal/half god) are called – You know the Greek gods and goddesses, celibacy is not their strong point (with some exceptions – Artemis??) Percy finds friends and finds the identity of his father, and is sent on a quest to avoid a war between the gods. We meet many characters we all know from our mythology books, and like Nightlife of the Gods, Thorne Smith’s awesome book, we see more ‘human’ traits in these gods, making us like them and not trust others.

    It is one of the most fun books I have read in a while, and for me to read 125 pages in one sitting is the greatest compliment I can give.

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