Saturday, July 29, 2006

Book Review: The Lightning Thief


Greek mythology has never been this fun! As soon as you glance at the table of contents for The Lightning Thief, by Rick Roirdan, you know that you are in for a wild ride. With chapter titles like "I accidentally Vaporize My Pre-algebra Teacher" and "Three Old Ladies Knit the Socks of Death," how can this book be anything but good? And indeed, The Lightning Thief is one of the most original and entertaining books that I've read in a long time.

Percy Jackson has been kicked out of one school after another. With ADHD and dyslexia, Percy is not a great student, and always seems to get into trouble. But when a teacher transforms into a monster during a field trip and attacks Percy, strange things start happening. Percy soon discovers that he is a demi-god: half god, half human. The Greek Gods are alive and well and living above the Empire State Building in New York. Percy's mother is human and his father is one of the Olympians. Chased by monsters, and accompanied by his friend Grover, a satyr, Percy ends up at Camp Half-Blood, a haven and training ground for the demi-gods.

But Percy's adventures are far from over. For someone has stolen Zeus' master lightning bolt, and Percy is a prime suspect. Accompanied by Grover and a daughter of Athena named Annabeth, Percy sets off to find the lightning bolt. If he doesn't find and return it within ten days, war could break out on Mount Olympus, and when the gods fight, the consequences could be devastating.

I've heard so much about this book, and I'm glad I finally got a chance to read it. The Greek gods updated and modernized are quite amusing, and the story has plenty of action and excitement. Greek mythology is always a popular topic with kids, and anyone with an interest in Greek mythology will enjoy identifying characters and scenes from mythology transformed into the modern world. Kids who have problems with ADHD and/or dyslexia will be inspired to learn that those characteristics are common among demi-gods, although Percy warns on the first page to "stop reading immediately" if you think you might be a demi-god because it's a difficult and dangerous life.

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12 comments:

Michele said...

This book seems to be very popular in the blogosphere - I'll have to check whether the library here has a copy !

Sheila said...

Yes, I've seen quite a few bloggers praising it, and my son also told me how great it was, so I just had to read it. It's just a fun book, especially if you know your Greek mythology.

Michele said...

I've reserved a copy; 4 out of 7 copies within Oxfordshire are out on loan - which looks promising, in terms of popularity !

Camille said...

Riordan was just presented with the Red House Children’s Book Award in England for Lightning Thief!

Sheila said...

Wow, that's great! He certainly deserves it!

Anonymous said...

this book was perfect i wonder how the book the sea of monsters is going to be like

Sheila said...

Definitely read Sea of Monsters if you haven't read it yet. It's just as good as the first book.

Anonymous said...

I am reading the first book and I think that it is the worset book ever written and it should be burned

Sheila said...

I'm sorry that you feel that way, Anonymous. Certainly there's no book that appeals to everyone. I hope that you can find something you do enjoy reading.

runs with sentences said...

My 9-year-old son gobbled up this book and the three books that follow. His teacher noticed him reading it during silent reading and at his conference expressed concern that it might be too violent and inappropriate for his age. I feel terrible because he purchased it at the school book fair so I put blind faith in Scholastic. I subsequently purchased the other books for him when he asked. He also read Eragon, which she also expressed concerns about. She did say she has not read any of these books herself.

Do you have any fantasy book recommendations that are appropriate for an accelerated third grade reader?

Sheila Ruth said...

I don't think that you need to feel terrible. I've read the books, and I don't remember anything that would be too violent or inappropriate for a 9 year old. I don't know what gives a teacher the right to criticize books that she hasn't read!!! There are some battles, but there wasn't anything that I remember that would be too much for most 9 year olds. Same goes for Eragon, although I haven't read the 3rd book yet.

Basically, I would let your son be the judge: make sure that he knows that if anything in a book bothers him, he can stop reading the book. There is so much being written today about trying to get boys to read, that if you have a boy who loves to read, don't take that away from him by taking away the books that he enjoys. Every expert that I've read recommends that one of the biggest factors in helping boys learn to enjoy reading is to let them read books that they enjoy and that appeal to them, whether that means epic fantasy, non-fiction, graphic novels, or Captain Underpants.

As for recommendations, he might try the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. Many kids I know in that age group love it. There is some violence, and some characters die, so if he doesn't like deaths in books, he might not want to read it. But I think that if he enjoyed the Percy Jackson books and Eragon, he'll have no problem with Warriors. One big advantage is that if he likes it, there are many books out in the series, so he'll have plenty to read. There are two 6-book series, and they're on book 5 of the third series, plus several standalone books. The first book is "Into the Wild."

I'll try to think of any other recommendations and post them here.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. The Lightning Thief is a very good book because it's an action-packed book. I learned a lot about greek mythology.I loved it!