Review: The Lightning Thief
Monday, December 13, 2021

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I decided to pick this book up after my daughter read the series because she loved it so much. I'd seen the Lightning Thief movie adaptation a few years ago, so between that and my daughter's commentary I had a decent idea of what to expect, though I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the differences between the book and movie.

The world of Percy Jackson is ours but with Greek gods and other mythical creatures living among us in hiding. (Basically Middle Grade urban fantasy.)
I really liked the way Riordan incorporated so many colorful myths and legends into his world building in a solid and believable way. The writing was fast-paced and easy to read, perfect for the MG level and/or adults looking for something light.

The main character of the book is a boy named Percy Jackson who has trouble at home, trouble at school . . . trouble in general. He has ADHD and dyslexia, which play a factor in his quests, but I felt like those traits were a little contrived to work specifically with the challenges he faced. In general I found the characters engaging, though some felt more like caricatures due to their over-the-top personalities (common in MG). Percy was the most well-rounded, which is good since he's the protagonist, but he did come across as rather whiny and a little slow on the uptake at times, which I didn't like. I did like that Riordan balanced the internal and external conflicts of the book and character by sending Percy on an epic, high-stakes quest while giving him a distinct, personal parallel that was his real motivation. Percy is joined on his adventure by two friends, Annabeth and Grover. Each has a distinct personality that is well portrayed, and each serves a specific purpose during Percy's quest.

My biggest complaint about this story is how rushed everything feels. Not the actual deadline by which Percy must complete his quest, but the scene jumps as he and his friends quickly overcome one obstacle and move on to the next. I was also a little annoyed with Percy/Riordan at times because Percy would sometimes completely ignore an important plot point until it became convenient for him to remember. For example, the oracle tells him early on that he will be betrayed by one who claims to be a friend, but never once did Percy suspect that either of his traveling companions, pretty much the only friends he has, might be the one to betray him until the very end of the story, at which point he claims to have been worried about that the whole time.

All in all I think this was a terrific read, especially for the intended age group, and I think adult fans of light fantasy who are looking for a fun, quick read will enjoy it.
Also, I have to give this book/series credit for sparking my daughter's interest in Greek mythology. :)

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