Published: 2005 (this edition- 2006)
This week I finally decided to revisit a series of books I last delved into aged six. In fact, ‘Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief’ and some of its successors were some of the first books I ever read by myself. They tell the story of Percy, a twelve year old boy who discovers his Father is a Greek god and ends up in a magical camp full of children in the same situation. I can recall reading this book a decade ago, enjoying it, reading three more of Riordan’s books and then managing to inadvertently forget about the series. I have been meaning to reread the books for some time after the movie adaptations and numerous Tumblr posts reminded me of their existence. Rereading Lightning Thief has been a pleasant experience, as it is an easy read anyone can enjoy regardless of the fact it is probably a little ‘young’ for them (unless you’re a preteen, in which case they’re probably the perfect books to use as a gateway into reading).
Percy himself is a pleasant character with a stereotypical unfortunate background, although said background can be forgiven since it sets up the story conveniently. He is likeable, narrating the story in a way that is probably an accurate description of how a twelve year old boy thinks (although never having been one I may be mistaken!). Riordan manages to make Percy quite amusing too, helping keep the book as an extremely quick read. In many ways it is the story of a boy who simply feels that he isn’t ‘good enough’ to ever be a success. Another character I liked was Grover, Percy’s ‘protective’ satyr. My only major complaint in the way of characters was the presence on Percy’s quest of Annabeth, a typical ‘clever’ but bland female character I hated. I’d never describe myself as an ardent feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but even I felt that a stronger female character was needed. I simply couldn’t connect with Annabeth.
As a whole, Riordan has certainly created an imaginative book centring on the unusual (for young adult literature) subject of Greek mythology. What’s particularly crative is that it manages to coordinate Ancient Greece with modern life in the U.S. The myths featured are certainly well-researched and are paired with some pretty fun references to both Greek culture and some important US landmarks.The novel further deserves credit for being more gender neutral than most books for teens. Whilst the book can be predictable- I thought it was obvious who would ‘betray’ Percy from the off- it is a book to simply be enjoyed rather than analysed. It has lots of high points, particularly the description of the Underworld and the build-up to Percy finally meeting the gods. I have one main hope for the sequel: less product placement!
Rating: ***.5 (3.5/5)