Saturday, May 18, 2013

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

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and a fun story in a fun fantasy universe
Cons: Pacing a little slow in the first half
The Bottom Line:
Fantasy for kids
That entertained this adult
Couldn't put it down

Percy Jackson Tracking the Lightning Thief is Lots of Fun

I've got to admit, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series hadn't really hit my radar until I heard about the movie.  Once I did, I decided I want to try to read The Lightning Thief before I saw the movie.  I loved it.

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of yet another boarding school.  But before that can happen, his algebra teacher attacks him and he overhears a conversation where he is being discussed.

While those things are weird, they are nothing to what happens when he gets home.  A weekend away with his mom turns into a run for their lives as Percy learns an amazing fact about his father.  Soon, he is given a quest.  With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, can Percy find the lightning thief?

I am being a little vague in the plot description on purpose, but I should point out it is a fantasy story set in modern New York.  There aren't too many plot twists or surprises in the first half, and I am attempting to avoid spoiling them.  Frankly, most of these "twists" are fairly obvious, but you need time to set them up.  I found this part a bit slow at times, but I had such fun that I didn't care.

Things really pick up when Percy gets his quest.  Again, I saw a few twists coming early, but there was plenty of action that kept me turning pages as quickly as I could.  I just had to know what was coming next.

I also liked the characters.  Percy is a sympathetic main character, so it was easy to root for him.  He makes some well developed friends I look forward to getting to know better in later books.  There were many characters who didn't really have enough time to develop, but they were colorful enough to stand out from each other.  Again, I feel like the important characters will easily get further developed as they come back into the story.

Percy narrates the story for us, which really helps things.  The style is very conversational and easy to read.  I flew through the pages, but I'm sure the late elementary and middle school target age will find it easy to read as well.

Some people will accuse these books of being Harry Potter rip offs.  And I could certainly see plenty of parallels.  However, Harry wasn't completely original himself, and the directions taken by the author here make those parallels something worth noting only in passing.  Frankly, I think any fan of Harry's willing to give these books a fair chance will fall in love with them.

The last thing I needed this year was a new series of books to try to cram into my already overflowing to be read mountain range.  (It left the pile stage a long time ago.)  But with how much I enjoyed The Lightning Thief, I have a feeling it won't be long before I am reading the next book about Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Here is a listing of both series in the complete Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus sagas in order.

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