Thursday, 11 March 2010

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

May 2006, Puffin (part of Penguin)
376 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, Fantasy, 9+

Cushions: 5
Daggers: 3
Smiles: 5
Tissues: 2
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥+

Summary from Puffin

The gods of Olympus are alive in the 21st Century. They still fall in love with mortals and have children who might become great heroes, but most of these children meet horrible fates at the hands of monsters by the age of twelve. Only a few learn the truth of their identity and make it to Half Blood Hill, a Long Island summer camp dedicated to training young demigods. Such is the revelation that launches young Percy Jackson on a quest to help his real father, Poseidon, avert a war among the gods.
With the help of Grover the satyr and Annabeth the daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction - Zeus' master bolt. Along the way, they face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop them. Most of all, Percy must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.

Percy and the Lightning Thief is a book which I've heard mentioned quite a bit. I generally don't have a clue over which are the latest movies at the cinema, but when a book gets turned into a film you know it's a big deal. As a book reviewer, I read a lot of books. I can usually tell pretty quickly if I love a book from the early chapters. I hadn't even reached the third page and I began to see why this series is so popular.

As a former student of Ancient History, the setting of this book appealed to me. I think it will encourage so many people to read a bit more about the ancient world, which is far from dead and boring. It was fun recognising subject's I've covered, and trying to second guess which character was which, before their identity was revealed.

I like how everything is explained to Percy - at least the basics which he can be told straight away. I felt like it all made perfect sense where the gods were, why they were in certain places etc. It was easy to assimilate and get on with the story.

The voice is strong, with a small level of humour which doesn't detract from the warnings Percy gives the reader, or the horrors of the situations he finds himself in. Trouble follows Percy around. It's a little bit unfair, considering for a fair part of the book Percy doesn't know the full story of what's going on. Others around him do, but they hold the information back for a reason.

Percy's initial classmates are funny with their antics. They are nice hooligans. I prefer the second group of classmates, who have more interesting skills and can do more damage.

It's a vivid book, both in describing what characters are doing and the world around them. All the senses are used well, making it almost possible to smell Percy's world from the page. Some of the smells I wished I could have before me, others I'm very glad books haven't developed the ability to convey the sense within the story to the reader.

I love how Percy's ADHD is used to explain the episodes when the immortal side of him takes over. His ADHD is touched on only a little bit. There is more focus on his dyslexia. I join Percy in finding it tough to read anything written in red, more so if it isn't capital letters. It isn't just people with dyslexia that can find it hard to read certain combinations. Ways of how to make printed material easier for those suffering from dyslexia is slipped into the story seamlessly, helping spread the message to the readers who may not be aware of the tips.

I knew there would be some danger and tension in the book. I didn't expect to be so scared on the first chapter! The fear quickly turned into awe at how cool Percy's new abilities are. Both the people who turn on him and the ones who help him, as well as his weapon were all a surprise. I wasn't able to guess very much of the book at all (this is a good thing, although I do like it when I can guess some of what's going on).

As a knitter, I was enjoyed the Fates' appearance very much. They have a funky coloured yarn. I can't say they are ladies who I would like to invite to tea. Ever. And don't be deceived by code names - people can be the opposite of what they sound like.

Percy's mother, Sally is one character I instantly prayed wouldn't die. She is as wonderful as Percy believes her to be. Considering how a lot of protagonists who I read about don't have family with them, it's a refreshing change to have Percy's mother alive and, well, motherly. Yes well, all I can say is that no character is safe from trouble. None. And dead doesn't always mean dead.

The bathroom incident shows that bullies do get their just reward eventually. A pity that can't be said for the real bad guys.

I had a theory about the awful Gabe, Percy's step-father. And I was absolutely spot on! (It was about the only thing I was correct about. I half thought that Percy himself was somehow the lightning bolt (He wasn't. And logically he couldn't have been. My mind can wonder off in strange directions). It took me a little while to figure out who Percy's father was, but it was nice to guess correctly before it was revealed.

I like how casually Grover drops into conversation the crux of the matter. He is by far my favourite character. He seems a bit long suffering - he means well, tries hard, but life doesn't always work out for him. Percy helps cheer up him up by saying the right things at the right time. I liked how he was a normal boy with Percy, squabbling over silly things occasionally.

Annabeth has a little bit of attitude, which makes me think anyone messing with her will get more than they bargained for. She certainly can teach Cerberus manners. I liked how some of her past was held back from Percy, until she, Percy and Grover were in danger. Then there was nothing else left but to tell the truth.

As an oreo fan, my eyes went very wide at the mention of Double Stuf Oreos. No idea what they are but they sound rather tasty..

From New York to Las Vegas, Percy travels far and wide. He is probably one of a handful of people who have actually broken into the Underworld. Amidst all this, Issues such as animal cruelty and domestic violence are touched upon ever so briefly. Just enough that if readers are aware of the subject, they will know what it is. If they aren't, then they might wonder about what's happening.

I cheered Percy on when he got to the final showdown of the book. He'd lost a few things on his journey, but was fighting for what he had left, using the strengths he was still developing.

If it weren't for my family thinking I'm strange, I would have roared with laughter at what happens in the elevator when Percy heads up to Mount Olympus. It's not what I would team with anyone going to visit the Olympians.

The one who ends up betraying Percy was someone I didn't expect. That was a clever twist and I like how the book ends. At the same time that Percy is on his own, recuperating from the suffering he has endured, he also is in the centre of several bonds of friendship, and lots of hope. I'm already hugging my cushion tight over what the future holds for him.

Also in the book: Olympian TV, rainbow communications, zebras, not so angelic cupids.

Further information about Percy can be found at the dedicated website.

Liked this? Be sure to check out book two, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters


Charmaine Clancy said...

My kids (9 & 12) both loved this book, so I gave it a go. Wow, Rick Riordan is a master of capturing the youth's voice and providing fast pace action - it never gets boring. We're now on book two.

Book Monster said...

I haven't read the books yet, still on TBR pile. But I've seen the movie at least two times and loved it. Not to mention, Logan lerman is cute!!

Rose Works Jewelry said...

I LoVE this series!