Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review: Percy Jackson #1 (The Lightning Thief) by Rick Riordan

Oops, sorry. Still playing catch-up on my reviews, obviously. I spent the weekend catching up on housework (i.e., laundry), making eggs benedict for my friend Diane (highly successful, but time-consuming), ridding my pantry of pantry bugs (bleh, don't ask), and finally taking down my Christmas tree (I know, waiting this late puts me in the running for a white trash award, bring it!). I also finished another book (Percy Jackson #2), started another one (Chima's "The Dragon Heir"), and actually did some writing for my own personal project.

So, here's to catching up still...

Title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Author: Rick Riordan

Score: 5 stars (out of 5)

Review: So I must admit, when I first thumbed through this book at the store, I rolled my eyes and put it back on the shelf. Skimming the first few pages gave me the impression that Mr. Riordan had simply conjured up a whiny, sarcastic child who would fumble and stumble his way through an impossibly epic legacy, and I would be pissed reading about it. I was not about to waste time on something like that. And even though my sister raved about the series, I almost made it a personal quest to never read these books.

Thankfully, my sister ignored me and included this book among her Christmas gifts.

In this first book of the series, we meet 11-year-old Percy Jackson, a good-natured boy who has been plagued by bad luck and bad circumstances as long as he can remember. At a school field trip to the museum, Percy faces off against a teacher who wants to inflict more than just the pain of detention. The resulting fight for his life puts Percy on a path to discover his special heritage and the responsibilities that such lineage bestows.

I won't pretend that Riordan's first book here isn't, first and foremost, meant for children. The narrative voice, the characters, the plot expositions and twists, these are all decidedly aimed at a youthful audience. Percy is as impetuous and innocent as any 11-year-old, and his sidekicks are not much older (though thankfully, they are oftentimes much wiser). Camp Half Blood, where Percy eventually settles to learn and train as a demigod, is filled with children preparing to fulfill their destiny as the offspring of the Greek pantheon. It's every kid's dream--to have special gifts and talents that set you apart from your peers.

But it's also a dream that adults share, albeit on a more worldly, cutthroat level. Perhaps that is partially the source of universal appeal this book seems to have. We live vicariously through Percy's adventures as someone with greatness on the horizon, mammoth challenges to overcome, and loyal, lovable friends to help along the way.

Reading The Lightning Thief is an indulgence much like watching a Hollywood blockbuster at the theater. It's a story that's not meant to invoke any paradigm shifts, nor does it stir you to action or call you to repentance. But it's a delightful, fast-paced tale that delivers in spades the entertainment and warm fuzzies we all crave. For so masterfully meeting that objective (as well as inspiring me to brush up on my Greek mythology), I can't help but give this book top honors. Call me a sheep. Call me as corrupt or brainwashed as the Academy Award voting body. I don't care. :)


  1. So, I hope you didn't give this book 5 stars just b/c I love this series and b/c I gave you the first book for Christmas. I wouldn't be offended if you didn't like it but I hope you did and since it does sound like that is the case, that makes me happy. :)

  2. Haha, well since I took time after work to buy the third book yesterday, I'd say I'm pretty genuine in saying I like the series. :)