The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Lightning Thief / 9780786838653
I'm kind of a sucker for mythology remakes, so I guess it was a foregone conclusion that I would like "The Lightning Thief". Percy Jackson really comes to life on the page as a sweet 12-year-old kid who is struggling from the weight of having lost his father, dealing with a horrible step-dad, and coping with ADHD and dyslexia. With all these problems, and in and out of schools like a revolving door, how was he to guess that he's a godling child, son of Poseidon, and with a brain stubbornly hardwired to read ancient Greek and be alert on the battlefield?
For all its "kid-focus", "The Lightning Thief" is surprisingly and admirably true to the myths that it builds upon. Since monsters can't be permanently killed, just 'defeated', Percy gets to visit quite a lot of mythological fare -- like the Medusa -- and it's quite interesting to see how Riordan has re-imagined the ancient gods and monsters of myth in their new, modern settings. The story, too, is surprisingly grim under the surface: since godlings naturally attract monsters to them, many of them are forced to live permanently at the safe "summer camp" for half-bloods, far away from their mortal families; protected prisoners, living life in a gilded cage.
If there's anything I don't like about "The Lightning Thief", it's perhaps that the writing can be a bit rough at times. Percy-the-narrator is fond of parenthetical asides, which often takes me right out of the action for some reason and reminds me that I'm reading a book; and some of the world-building at the beginning is quite slow if you already know the premise of the book (which, now that it's a major motion picture, you probably already do). On the other hand, I finished this book in a day because I quite simply couldn't put it down, so I can't criticize it too strongly -- Percy Jackson may be rough around the edges, but it has a heart and soul that will keep up reading until the end.
~ Ana Mardoll
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