Title: The Lightning Thief
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book #1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Year Published: 2005
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Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends — one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena — Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. – (Goodreads)
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I’m going to be perfectly honest right at the beginning – this book took me roughly two years to read and it’s not even that I disliked it. In fact, I really loved it. There is a semi (not really) complicated story behind this. I first started this book, as I said, about two years ago and I stopped reading rather early on when it mentioned Athena having children. Athena is a virgin goddess, she shouldn’t have any demigod kids! I closed the book. Now, I knew this book had a movie adaption, that is actually how I found out about the Percy Jackson series to begin with, so I just decided to watch that instead. Of course, low and behold, I really enjoyed the movie and decided to give the book another shot. It was by chance that before I started again that I found out it was later explained how Athena had her children, instead of the regular way she thought them up and delivered them down to her lovers. I was able to accept this explanation and moved on. Of course, I started to like it so much that I immediately went out and bought the whole series in hardcover (a boxed set; I gave the paperbacks I had of the first two books to my cousin), the Ultimate Guide, what was out of the Lost Hero series, and the Kane Chronicles. Yeah, I went I bit crazy. Then college happened, the book was put aside again, until later in the year when I started reading it with my roommate – we didn’t finish it. Finally, about two weeks ago a picked it up for the last time and completed it. Yeah, that’s my story. Boring, right? Anyway, on to the review.
This book starts off with Perseus (Percy) Jackson who thinks he is just a normal boy, but it turns out he couldn’t have been more wrong. He is actually the son of a god and a mortal – a demigod. He is caught in the middle of an oncoming war between two of the big three, Poseidon and Zeus, and must stop the fighting before a World War III breaks loose. The pacing in the book is great. It has a good balance between action and humor, and it is just plan amazing. This book is also a pretty good way to learn about some Greek mythology if you are interested as well, as Percy is new to the Greek myths and is finding out all about it as the book progresses.
Percy travels with others on his quest, Grover, his best friend, and Annabeth, a daughter of Athena. What I really loved about these characters is that they were so different, so unique in their own ways, but complemented each others so well. If one of them had a weakness, the other was able to make up for it; these character really seemed to teach about working together rather than trying to take on everything alone. Below are my individual thoughts on each of these three special and gifted characters:
Grover – If you’ve seen the movie than I will warn you that Grover is personality is completely unlike what it is portrayed as in the film adaption. In film he is complete confident, a womenizer even. However, in the book he is more timid and unsure of himself and he grows exceptionally throughout this first book. He is certainly the underdog character whom proves himself over and over. You just can’t help but love him or find yourself wishing that he were real so you could hug him.
Annabeth – I didn’t really like her at first and it was not because she was a daughter of Athena, but because she was coming off really stuck up and mean. Really, she seemed to stepped aside to watch the new guy get bullied by some of the other campers just so she could apparently evaluate his skills. So, it took me awhile to warm up to her, but about halfway through the book she really started to show how kind she was. Not only that, but she had every reason to be proud of her intelligence; I think I just needed to see it in action while working as a team rather than the times we see it before these three start traveling together.
Percy – Forget that he is twelve; he has to be one of the sweetest and bravest male leads I ever come across in my reading, which is saying something as he is competing against Charlie (Perks of Being a Wallflower), Harry (Harry Potter), Ponyboy (The Outsiders), and many others. The loyalty he shows for his mother and friends is just awe-inspiring. He also has to be one of the funnest characters in the book and I couldn’t be happier that we are following his point-of-view as he not only comes to terms with something that completely changes his world, but as he fights against all odds to save the most important person in his life. Percy Jackson is a gem among gems and I really look forward to his growth in the rest of the series.
I did have a few problems with this book that prevented me from giving it a full five out five and they my seem like small reasons to others, but they were enough to make me pull back a bit. Two of the reasons actually centered around Annabeth and her reactions to certain things and since the are spoiler-like I am going to put the next bit in spoiler tags, so read them at your own risk.
WARNING: THE MORE BUTTON SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY THING I CAN DO TO HIDE SPOILERS
There is a point in the book where Percy asks Annabeth which said she thinks her mother would choose if they failed there quest and it came to a war between Poseidon and Zeus and Annabeth’s response bothers me a bit. She stats that it doesn’t matter the side her mother takes because she, herself, would fight along side Percy. This just seems off to me because she is very proud of who her mother is and she hasn’t known Percy for long. I know they have been traveling together, risking their lives together, and saving each other over and over, but it still feels a bit too soon for her to say something like this with such conviction. Then there is the part at the end were the big reveal of the traitor happens, yet Annabeth almost instantly believes it with very little denial. This just feels a bit out of character, especially with how loyal and caring she was proving to be during the journey, not to mention the stuff her and this other character have been through and her possible feeling for him.
Yeah, so that’s that. There were a few more, but those two were the major ones for me.
Overall, I think this a wonderful book and I would recommended it to anyone, no matter the age, if they like mythology, fantasy, and/or adventure.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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Below is the trailer to the movie and while I like the movie on it’s own, it is nothing like the book. In fact, the book is like a billion times better.