Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: March 2006, Mirmax Books
Almost everyone knows a few legends of the Greek gods: Zeus sitting on his throne of clouds throwing lightning bolts, dead souls lining up to enter the realm of Hades, sea monsters erupting from Poseidon’s depths, and of course the gods’ children and all their epic adventures.
Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, explains what would happen if these same gods, thousands of years later, hit the streets of New York City, where Olympus lies above the Empire State Building.
Percy Jackson is the 12-year-old protagonist. In the beginning, he goes on a field trip when—seemingly out of nowhere—his math teacher, who is actually one of the three Furies of the Underworld, tries to attack him. He then finds out from his Latin teacher, later revealed to be the centaur, Chiron, that he is the son of the sea god, Poseidon. He is taken to Camp Half-Blood – the only place on Earth safe for a child born of the gods 0 the only place monsters don't chase them day and night. Percy’s Uncle Zeus thinks he has stolen the lightning bolt from Olympus. Percy then embarks on a quest to find the bolt and bring it back.
From then on it is nonstop thrill and suspense made hilarious: Medusa goes by “Aunty Em” and runs a business selling statues which she made herself; the god of war, Ares, is having an affair with the goddess of love, Aphrodite, and rides a Harley Davidson in place of his war chariot.
These modern takes on ancient legends make the book interesting and at the same time funny. Take Percy’s first impression of Hades, for instance:
“When he sat forward in his throne, shadowy faces appeared in the folds of his black robes, faces of torment, as if the garment were stitched of trapped souls from the Fields of Punishment, trying to get out. The ADHD part of me wondered, off-task, whether the rest of his clothes were made the same way. What horrible things would you have to do in your life to get woven into Hades's underwear?”
The comedy is balanced by lots of action and drama. For example, Percy plunges off a cliff to avoid a fire-breathing chimera disguised as a Chihuahua. At Camp Half-Blood, capture the flag is a lot more exciting because you’re allowed to use swords and full-body armor. There’s even a bit of romance throughout the series, but luckily, it’s nothing cheesy.
"Percy Jackson and the Olympians" is a book suitable for almost any age group and gender. There’s enough action for the average boy, just enough romance for the average girl, and comedy enough for both. It’s also sophisticated enough for adults, but can be easily understood by anyone in elementary school.
Riordan’s book is a fun read that keeps you on the edge of your seat, either because you’re on the verge of rolling on the floor laughing or because you can tell something amazing is about to happen. I suggest you pick it up at your local bookstore or library and read it ASAP!
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