April 20, 2011

Because Destiny Gave Me That Sword • The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief book cover
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2006
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There's little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.

There's already been so much that's been said about this series, but I still feel like putting my own two cents in - especially seeing as how this is probably the fourth or fifth time I've read it.

The concept behind the series itself is brilliant. Greek mythology meets modern-day world? Hell yes! It's one of those situations where I wish I had thought of it first; but I can appreciate what Rick Riordan has done in bringing it all together for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. As someone who's always been fascinated with the gods and goddesses of Greek myths, it's definitely fun to see them come alive in these books, and be given such specific personas.

The Lightning Thief is a great introduction to a whole host of fantastic characters: Percy (our MC, who finds that he's the Son of Poseidon), Annabeth (my personal favorite character, a daughter of Athena who's smart and sassy), Grover (a satyr, who is guardian to Percy), Chiron (a centuar) and as many Greek gods and goddesses as you would want to suit your fancy - everyone from King Zeus to Hermes the messenger and Iris, goddess of the rainbow.

Apart from that, we go to a great number of interesting locations - Mt. Olympus (which is apparently located above the Empire State Building), the Underworld and Camp Half-Blood, being just a few. Even though Riordan leans towards more action-packed scenes, the descriptions are still enough to provide a beautiful visualization to the reader.

The book covers Percy's discovery of his god ancestry, his introduction to Camp Half-Blood where kids like him are sent for training, and his journey to retrieve Zeus' lightning bolt after being accused of stealing it (including uncovering a mysteriously larger conspiracy behind this theft!). Though it might seem like a lot to pack into one book, I think all these things are brought out and resolved quite well throughout the book.

Percy's an "underdog" hero, similar to Harry Potter in that sense at least (although I can't see how else they would be similar at all, as Harry is from the world of wizardry and Percy's world revolves more around mythology). It's easy to want to root for him, to see him succeed and to feel his losses as keenly as he does.

It's enjoyable for me to see him battling some interesting opponents early on in the series, including Medusa, Ares and the Furies. The action scenes are a lot of fun and watching Percy using both brains and brawn was a lot of fun. It also helps that he has his best friends (Annabeth and Grover) fighting alongside him - their trio definitely makes for an interesting combination throughout the book.

Overall, The Lightning Thief that I could not put down... even when I read it for the fifth time. I get instantly absorbed into the story; it's definitely a series I'd recommend for fans of Greek mythology, underdog heroes, as well as even recommending it to the younger, middle grade audience.


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