BOOK REVIEW: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

This review does not contain spoilers.

percy jackson

Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek God.

I was just a normal kid, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporised my maths teacher. Now I spend my time battling monsters and generally trying to stay alive.

This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky, thinks I’ve stolen his lightning bolt—and making Zeus angry is a very bad idea.

I’ve wanted to read the Percy Jackson books for a while. A few people said they were for a much younger audience and that I shouldn’t bother with them. Then Tumblr got excited for the release of The Blood of Olympus (the final book in The Heroes of Olympus series) and my friend Elke raced through the first two Percy Jackson and the Olympians books in a day and a half. I figured it was time to give it a shot.

The complete series of Percy Jackson and the Olympians was my first purchase on my new Kindle Paperwhite and I desperately hoped that it would be worth the (admittedly small) amount that I spent on it.

It was.

I love it.

The Lightning Thief was the perfect remedy for my holiday reading slump. Whatever I tried to read, I could barely keep my eyes open. And then I started The Lightning Thief and I was wide awake. Every time I left the room to go and explore a new city, I was excited to get back to my hotel and cuddle up with my Kindle.

Percy has a more mature and engaging voice than other 12-year-old narrators I’ve encountered. Rick Riordan imbues all his characters with a great sense of humour and each of them has an individual way of speaking so it was anything but monotonous.

I couldn’t help but make a couple of comparisons while I was reading The Lightning Thief. The first comparison was to the concept of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which I read at the start of the year. While Gaiman focused primarily on Nordic gods and borrowed bits and pieces from other cultures, Rick Riordan focuses on the Greek mythology and, honestly, I like it better. Maybe that’s because I’ve studied more Greek and Roman mythology at university so the gods and stories are more familiar. Or maybe it’s because of the novel’s tone. The Lightning Thief never loses itself in the expanse of the mythology and provides continual action and suspense, alleviated with good humour.

The second comparison was to the Harry Potter series. Both series start with a young boy being plucked out of the relative obscurity of normal life and finding himself with newly discovered supernatural powers in a land filled with monsters, mythology, and facing off against enemies previously thought to be dead. Both main characters have a sarcastic streak of humour, which I appreciate. Where Harry’s was more subtle, Percy can’t help but blurt out most of his retorts, even when he knows that he’ll pay for them.

percy jackson movie2Part of my reluctance to read the books was based on my having seeing The Lightning Thief movie ages ago. From what I remember of the movie, I can see why book fans were so angry with how it turned out: there were a lot of unnecessary changes not just to the plot but to the personality of the characters. Now, having read the book, I can assure potential readers that this is one case where you definitely shouldn’t judge the book by its movie.

 

The verdict

The Lightning Thief is a fun and easy read. It may have been written for younger readers but, as a regular reader of YA, I never found it childish or boring; it’s along the lines of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in terms of maturity. I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages. Percy is a great character and I’m glad that I bought the entire set on my Kindle. Now I can move straight on to the next book in the series, The Sea of Monsters.

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