Books, eBook, Fantasy, Fiction, Folklore, Middle Grade, YA

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is a fun first romp with Percy Jackson and the Olympians

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted something cozy with a dash of folklore (have I mentioned my minor in college was Classical Mythology?) and also wanted to read with my eyes on my kindle for a change, so I finally picked up The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, by Rick Riordan. The eBook version is 396 pages and is told in the first-person point of view by a single narrator, Percy himself.

Some booktubers I follow call Rick Riordan “Uncle Rick” and I can definitely see why. I missed out on this series when I was younger; it came out when I was in early high school and I had already been reading adult fiction even when I was in late elementary school so I think it felt “beneath me,” or at least beneath my reading level at the time. It was pretty funny, and very approachable (which makes sense, as it’s written for readers aged 10-14 years). This is a good alternative to Harry Potter, though I feel it’s probably a little less “literary” than HP tries to be. The books also seem a bit shorter in terms of actual length.

Our literal hero, Percy Jackson, has had a bit of a rough life. He never met his dad, though he does has a vague memory of a man smiling over him, and his stepdad is a gross jerk who treats his mother horribly. He hasn’t lasted at a school for longer than a year at a time, because he either gets in trouble or fails out (he has dyslexia and ADHD, both of which are apparently pretty common among demi-gods). During his seventh grade year, and even after returning home to Manhattan, Percy has several run-ins with various Greek monsters that he read about in his Latin classes.

Things really hit the fan when he ends up fighting the Minotaur, which results in the disappearance of his mother. Thankfully, this happens at the entrance to Camp Half-Blood, where he takes up residence for the summer… before he is granted a quest to find Zeus’ missing weapon (the lightning bolt of the title). If Percy is unable to complete this quest, which he takes along with both an old and new friend, World War 3 will break out thanks to infighting between Zeus and Hades, amongst others.

I enjoyed how Uncle Rick wove ancient Greek mythology into the modern world, including explaining the “mist,” as regular humans will make themselves believe anything that doesn’t involve actual god-stuff.

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