The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

lTitleThe Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy

After reading nothing but full-length novels and short story anthologies the past month or so, I was more than read to sit back and get lost in a fun series. The first installment of Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians series definitely did the trick, as I’m almost done with the third book after starting the series five days ago. I chose this series because I’ve been interested in Greek/Roman mythology since I was a kid and because a number of friends recommended it to me. I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations!

Percy Jackson is a twelve year old with ADHD, dyslexia and a serious knack for getting expelled from schools. When his math teachers spontaneously sprouts wings and tries to murder him during a field trip, he starts to realize that his life isn’t going to get any easier. After being pursued by monsters and losing his mother, Percy ends up at Camp Half-Blood, a summer training camp for the children of the gods, or demigods. It turns out Percy is the son of Poseidon, the sea god, Zeus believes he’s stolen a lightning bolt more powerful than all of the world’s nuclear weapons, and technically he’s not even supposed to exist. He begins his first quest to bring back the bolt and clear his name, and try to find his mom along the way.

What I liked most was Percy’s distinctive voice as he narrated the story. A big problem I have with a lot of children’s and young adult fiction is voice. These genres more often than not nowadays use first person, which is only an effective tool, in my opinion, if you can create an interesting and engaging narrative voice. Nothing is more boring than bland first person POV. Percy’s voice is anything but, and we see his world through a very believable set of twelve year old boy’s eyes. The narrative is hilarious and fun to read, and Percy is both a likable and sympathetic main character.

Considering this is a book for children, and I come from a teaching/education background, I do look at series like this a little critically. I like that this series has a number of strong female characters and that their strength isn’t questioned or made fun of by the male characters. I do wish the story wasn’t so dominated by male characters, but I’m hoping that improves as the series progresses. I also like how Riordan found a way to put a positive spin on ADHD and dyslexia, which still have such a stigma in schools.

If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted series to lose yourself in, I definitely recommend Percy Jackson & The Olympians. I will continue to review the books as I finish them to see if the series can maintain the momentum of the first.


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