**Also published on Goodreads**
I am both surprised and pleased to be giving this five stars (which is actually like 4.9985322197, but why get that specific?). When I first started, I definitely didn’t have such high expectations despite all the hype surrounding it and the general affection for this series. But it’s nice to have a good surprise every once in a while, so I’ll take it!
First, I’d like to say that don’t let this being a middle-grade book put you off. (It did me for a long time and now I feel as though I’ve been ridiculous.) Yes, it does star a twelve year old. No, there isn’t going to be a lot of romance (if that’s what you’re looking for, you should be looking elsewhere anyhow). No, there won’t be swearing, inappropriateness (some beheading though!), or a general sense that these kids are being set up for adult situations (despite all the battling of monsters). Which, come to think of it, are kind of refreshing benefits! This book relies on story to unravel and I’m rather impressed as a result.
So, we’ve got twelve-year-old Percy Jackson who is a labeled “trouble-maker.” And I want to say up front that I both loved this and hated it (it may be the reason it, in the end, doesn’t quite get five stars, so there). It was awesome because it throws our idea of labels out the window. Who are we to judge a kid who talks too much? Or can’t focus? Or can’t sit still? Or has difficulties reading? That kid at the back of the class who is always distracted, tends to maybe distract those around him, and is dyslexic? Maybe he’s just a godling! On the other side of that, why is it always the kids who are goofing off and causing trouble who get the attention anyway? (Bitterness alert!) I’m just saying, they always get the attention, even if it’s bad, and who suffers? The kids who are quietly sitting and trying to pay attention, so really, why bother following the rules at all when they clearly don’t get you anything but ignored and a teacher who never remembers your name?
Moving on. I really enjoyed all of the mythology, because I’m big on Greek mythology, so it was cool because I recognized a lot of it (and noticed when Riordan tweaked some of it, just saying, look up the Medusa myth and see what really went down). I thought this was freshly done, blending in the ancient Greek stuff with the modern world in a way that was occasionally creepy, often made a lot of sense, and was usually all kinds of funny.
Which was the main reason, I think, in the end, that I loved this so much. It was incredibly funny at times. It made the intensity of the situations taken down a few notches so that it wasn’t overwhelming and made everything in general feel more realistic. I was never just thinking to myself “Gee, that isn’t how a twelve-year-old would react!” though maybe I should have occasionally. The humor really made this book and I would be intensely disappointed if I didn’t see it in later novels as well.
I will mention that I’ve seen the movie, so some of the ending was not a surprise – and the rest of it was just like, “Eh? That is totally not how it went in the movie!” Which was fine, honestly. I liked it regardless of my preconceived notions going in and ultimately didn’t mind that the book and movie were different (I liked both, no matter what anyone else says about the whole deal). That being said, I think that there were a few surprises as far as who the real “bad guys” were, the whole oracle thing was sufficiently creepy and fun to puzzle out, I liked Chiron and Mr. D, as well as Annabeth, Grover, and of course Percy. I think each character added a little something to the table and I really appreciated that.
So, ultimately, the verdict is that I would highly recommend this book regardless of your age. I’ll mention that if you don’t like mythology, you might still give it a shot, because this is pretty well done and isn’t just chock full of ancient Greek stuff (or rather, it is and it isn’t in a nice, well blended sort of way). I think this was a really enjoyable read and proves that your target audience isn’t the only audience that will have a good time.
P.S. I have borrowed book 2 from the library and have NOT had the time for it. Very disappointing. And more to the point, I realized he’s written books for Asgard mythology, too, and now I’m distracted. Do I want to try these out? I love Norse mythology, too…
Title: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Approximate Length: 378 pages
I read a movie tie in version borrowed from the library, paperback.