Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One), by Rick Riordan

"If you're a normal kid, reading this because you think it's fiction, great. Read on. I envy you for being able to believe that none of this ever happened.

But if you recognize yourself in these pages - if you feel something stirring inside - stop reading immediately. You might be one of us. And once you know that, it's only a matter of time before they sense it too, and they'll come for you.

Don't say I didn't warn you."

Percy Jackson is 12 years old. He is dyslexic. He has ADHD. He has a rep for getting in trouble. And he's about to be expelled from Yancy Academy - his sixth school in as many years. But this time, with help from his best friend Grover and his favorite teacher Mr. Brunner (who are not what they seem), he finds out that there's a perfectly good explanation for all of it, that he's not a bad kid, and that he comes by everything quite naturally. See, Mom's a mortal, and Dad's an ancient Greek god. That makes him a half-blood: a demigod hardwired for reading Greek and doing hero stuff. That also makes him a target of monsters bent on snuffing him out - him and all the other kids he meets at Camp Half-Blood.

Those monsters are the least of his worries. Zeus' thunderbolt has been stolen, and he thinks Percy is the thief. Zeus threatens a war that will tear apart Mount Olympus and throw the modern world into chaos if it's not returned. Percy's only chance at survival - indeed, everyone's only chance - is to complete the dangerous quest given him by the Oracle. His job is simple, if daunting: find the bolt, return it to Zeus, and expose the thief. In 10 days. But Percy's quest is also personal, and not quite as simple - to win the favor of his Greek god father. And all the while, he wrestles with the Oracle's warning of a friend's betrayal. Grover and Annabeth volunteered to help him on his quest. Surely they wouldn't turn on him?

For Teachers and Librarians:
The Lightning Thief has so much going on, you could revolve your entire curriculum around it for quite some time. Besides being a fantastic story that your kids will immerse themselves in completely, you can pull a ton of educational material and units from here. Explore the themes of heroism, family, friendship, loyalty, and courage. Delve in to Greek mythology, matching it up to what they read about in the book, or use the book as a springboard into further exploration of the Greek myths it touches on. Have your charges write their own story - putting themselves in Percy's place, deciding which god is their parent, including some of their friends in there, coming up with problems and solutions to include, and making sure there is conflict and resolution, and a quest.

The book is full of magic, and mystery, and adventure - have your kids cite examples of each, then branch out: what other books do they know that would fall under these categories, and why? Let them act out favorite scenes. Squeeze in some math - compare and contrast American currency with the golden drachmas used in the book. Compare and contrast modern Greek currency with ancient Greek currency - mixing a bit of social studies into your math lessons. Let them plot on a United States map all the places mentioned in the book, and tag them with what happened at each place. Talk about the modern world's events, and how they could seen as being influenced by the Greek gods - and then have them write up mock news stories about them for the Mount Olympus newspaper. So many ideas, so little space! Drop a comment if you have other ideas!

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
The Lightning Thief is a book both you and your kiddos will love reading. There's action, and adventure, and magic, and suspense, and some peril, and humor. The story will keep you on your toes - lots of twists and turns, and never a dull moment. And on the serious side, it's a warm look at the great lengths to which people will go for those they love and care for. It shows strong friendships, the value of loyalty - as well as the value of putting your loyalty in the right places, and the good things that come from doing what is right. It shows what kids can do if they trust in themselves, and how much more they can do if they have others who will trust and support them. You can't go wrong here, and you can feel good that you're putting a quality book in their hands, whether you read it together, or whether they go off to read it on their own.

For the Kids:
Have you ever thought that you didn't quite belong? That there was something just a little, well, different about you? Did you ever hope that you had these really awesome powers? Did you ever think it would be cool if things in this world were not what they seemed, but that you found out what they were, and nobody else was the wiser? That happens to Percy Jackson in The Lightning Thief.

It has a little bit of everything: danger, heroes, villians, action, mystery, and adventure. It's a whole new and fun way of looking at the very old Greek myths you may have read, because they seem so much cooler playing out in "real life." Plus, who doesn't love a book with a good quest in it? It's funny sometimes, and scary sometimes, and powerful sometimes, and even sad sometimes, but it's a story that will keep you turning the pages as fast as your eyes can read the words. Be forewarned: once you've read this book, you may never look at your friends and teachers in quite the same way ever again...

For Everyone Else:
The Lightning Thief is a book to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. The action sweeps you along from one exciting scene to the next, and you'll find it hard to put down.

Wrapping Up:
Find your copy of The Lightning Thief, and get reading. It's a book you don't want to miss. Once you've finished it, though, don't be sad - there are four more books after this one, so you can continue the adventure!

Title: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book One)
Author: Rick Riordan
Jacket Design: Christine Kettner
Pages: 377
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publisher and Date: Miramax, 2005
Edition: 1st, Hardcover, reinforced binding
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $17.99
ISBN-10: 0786856297
ISBN-13: 9780786856299

*The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, was purchased by Kim Wheedleton for her personal use and enjoyment. She was not contacted by any person or company requesting that she write this review. No payment in any form has been requested, offered or received for her review of this book.


  1. I love ur series its really awesome

  2. it really really bbbbbrrrrrriiiiilllllllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnttttttttttttttt

  3. This is a totally awesome book and I REALLY hope you keep on writing

  4. i had fussed a lot to read dis book. good one!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaab book !!!loved it!!!### :) :) :) :)


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