Title: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book One)
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci Fi/Fantasy
Summary: Percy Jackson has always had trouble in school--bad grades, bad experiences, being kicked out of one right after the other. When, the summer after sixth grade, he and his mom and his best friend (who Percy quickly discovers is half-goat) are attacked by a giant bull, Percy quickly figures out that his life isn't normal. He's an Olympian--son of Poseidon--and he has to go on a quest with some friends (including the goat/boy) to save Zeus' master bolt and thwart World War III.
First Line: "Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood."
Review: I read this book in preparation to see the movie (which comes out this President's Day). I also read the book at the vehement urging of my nephew. Background on my nephew: he's 15, a reluctant reader, was only required to read the first book in this series, and has now read them all (voraciously). So, I went in expecting to get something that he'd like... which wasn't necessarily something I'd like.
And, although this book was far from perfect, it was really pretty good.
Some good things include the humor of the book (Riordan's writing is, at times, down-right hilarious), the use of mythology (I love books that cleverly are teaching young readers... and it inspired me to brush back up on my Homer), and the complex relationships.
Many of the Olympians don't know who their Deity parent is, and even those who do are rarely treated to interaction with the god (because the gods aren't allowed to show favoritism). I liked that Percy had that level of ambiguity, some bitterness, some healthy respect, and a whole lot of confusion. I'm looking forward to how the god-parent/child relationship will further develop.
I'm also looking forward to the plot developing in future books. This one was pretty light on challenges--Percy, as a son of one of the "Big Three" gods, should have been challenged a little more. Here's to hoping that he has to prove his mettle a little more in future installments in the series.
Also, some of the god-god interactions were briefly touched on in this book, but those should be more fun to read about as the series progresses. I, personally, love reading about the gods--they bring the drama and, coupled with their crazy powers, this makes for many fun-filled stories.
Recommendation: It's hard to recommend anything else because I haven't seen a lot of MG authors using mythology really well. At work, I've been recommending this series to HP fans, and I've been encouraging teens (usually girls) who enjoy it to read Troy High if they want to stay on the Greek train.
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