Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
Book Details:
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
by Rick Riordan
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2005, Hyperion Books For Children
Hardback, 375 pages
ISBN: 0786856297

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's 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's 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.
With cover art from the major motion picture, this first installment of Rick Riordan's best-selling series is a non-stop thrill-ride and a classic of mythic proportions.
I decided to read this partly because I had just seen the movie and partly because I heard that it was a good series for fans of the Harry Potter series. Well, in regards to the movie, it's appalling how much the producers changed the book's plot to make the movie. If they make a second movie, I likely will not be interested, as I much more prefer the book's plot. In regards to the book's similarities to Harry Potter, they are vast, but really, who wouldn't aim to write something as popular and complex as the Harry Potter series? J.K. Rowling owns a castle! So, on to the actual book.
Years ago I thought that writing a fantasy series that uses Greek mythology would be a great idea, so I was excited when I heard of the Percy Jackson series. I love the modernized spin on the various good and bad characters, bringing them to life in both creative and believeable ways, such as Ares on a Harley and "Mr." Charon wearing Italian suits. The "Gods" of mythology at times seemed more like immature teenagers or work-aholic parents, with as much flaws as any normal human, and I really appreciated that they were differentiated from The GOD early on, and their place in the known universe was explained in the context of Percy's world. I especially like the scene of Hephaestus' trap that Percy and Annabeth get caught in. How the "normal" humans explained away the activities of the mythological characters was probably the most creative of the whole text, and at times rather humorous. It actually makes me wonder how much of what I see everyday is only a cover for what is really happening in the spiritual realm.
The only element that really bugged me about the text was how Percy changed from this moody, victimized pre-teen to a rather mature young man with almost no transition - emotional or otherwise. It almost felt like Percy possessed two different personalities that shared the same body. While Percy often says that he did not want to be the son of Poseidon, I found evidence of inner termoil strangely absent throughout the text.  I also felt that there were smaller issues that could have been more detailed and developed, such as the characters of Grover and Annabeth. I will be continuing the series with The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) in the near future.

The Cover: I like this cover because it gives very recognizeable (at least to me) images straight out of Greek mythology - Medusa, Cerberus, and the Minotaur. I knew this book would be great for me because I have always loved the stories from Greek mythology.

First Line: "Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood."
First thought passing through my mind... Harry Potter anyone? But since I had already seen the movie, and the library was closed for renovations for three weeks, I vowed to reserve prejudice on the book until I had read it through.

Favorite Quote: "Deadlines just aren't real to me until I'm staring one in the face."

Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, Fantasy Challenge, 1st in a Series Challenge


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