Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion (2006)
Synopsis from cover: Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of a betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: I read this book ages ago, so long in fact that I had forgotten every bit about this book. It was like reading it for the first time, so that was a plus. Hint: the movie is nothing like the book – throw everything you know out the window if you watched the movie before reading the book. I’m not yet a die-hard Percy Jackson fan, not like I was with Harry Potter, but it’s a solid start to a promising series that stands a few notches above others, and I can’t wait to read the next four books.
What did I think about the characters? For once, I felt like the mindset and actions of the characters matched up with their ages. Of course, I had to make a bit of an allowance for the fact that these kids are demigods and there’s bound to be a bit more ability and maturity, even if they are sixth graders. Either way, I never thought “hey, what twelve year old would really think or do that?” There were several moments where Percy didn’t think his ideas through, and landed himself in some trouble, and that really added to the believability of the character. The three main characters (Annabeth, Grover, and Percy) were all unique in their voices, and had very distinct personalities as well. If I was only given dialogue, I could probably still pick out who said what – and that’s a quality that earns at least ten brownie points in my book.
And the plot? I never felt rushed through something, but it wasn’t so slow that I was bored. I felt that it was just the right pace. There were a bunch of humorous scenes that had me smiling, if not laughing, at times. Another part that I really enjoyed: all of the side trails the three kids find themselves on during their quest are mostly caused by the gods. Riordan really stuck to all the legends of the Greek gods pretty much screwing with everyone for their own enjoyment.
What about the writing style? Riordan had a light, playful tone for much of the book, but knew when to turn up the seriousness. He took a voice that was appropriate no matter the situation, and didn’t over explain anything, instead allowing readers to mull over his few short sentences and glean meaning for themselves. Plus, if you’re a Greek mythology buff like me, the entire book is littered with allusions to the different legends, even if they don’t directly affect the trio.
Anything else you’d like to add? Once again, the movie is nothing like the book. Both are excellent, but don’t try to compare them to each other or you’ll go bonkers! FYI: if you plan on purchasing the book, I recommend buying the box set from Amazon. It’s $20 for all five in the series (paperback), and even if you don’t like the series you end up saving oodles of dollars because buying them individually is about $7.50 for each. You can find the boxed set here.