What You Need to Know:|
• The Lightning Thief’s enormous popularity led to a major motion picture in 2010 although please note that the movie
is VERY different from the book.
• It was a New York Times Notable Book of 2005 and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.
• The first in the series (there are 4 more at the moment), it is also the first young adult novel written by Rick Riordan.
• While this series definitely stands on its own, there are some obvious similarities to Harry Potter.
• Greek Mythology plays a central role in the story so this could attract or discourage some young readers.
• There is some violence in this story – lots of fighting and horrifying monsters – but no death or killing.
• Readers may find inspiration in the fact that the main character becomes a hero despite his Dyslexia and ADHD.
Well, everyone seems to know about Percy Jackson since the movie came out but for those of you who have either been under a rock or avoiding fantasy books, here’s the scoop. Percy Jackson is a 12 year-old boy (he’s older in the movie so keep that in mind if you’re taking your kids) who has never really fit in and is definitely lacking in confidence. He’s been kicked out of a bunch of schools, doesn’t do well in most of his classes and pretty much expects his life to continue on that monotonous path. When the book starts he is at Yancy Academy in upstate New York while his mom and smelly step-dad Gabe are in the City. His class is on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and this is where the adventure begins.
While they're at the Museum, Percy’s math teacher, Mrs. Dodds, unexpectedly attacks him and his history teacher, Mr. Brunner, comes to his rescue. Although Mrs. Dodds disappears as though she had never existed and when he gets back to school, his best friend, Grover, claims to know nothing of her, Percy knows something is up. It turns out that the strange things that Percy has noticed all his life actually add up to something exceptional but it isn't until he goes home at the end of the school year and takes a trip with his mom that he finally learns what that exceptional thing is. Grover shows up unexpectedly and before long, Percy, his mom and Grover are on the run. Their short journey leads to a violent fight with a Minotaur (half man, half bull), the disappearance of Percy's mother and the introduction of Camp Half-Blood and Percy's new identity.
Camp Half-Blood is a safe-house/training center for kids whose mother or father is a Greek god/goddess. Apparently Percy’s mom had had a relationship with the Greek god, Poseidon and he is Percy’s father. Talk about a big revelation for a kid! Percy also learns that Grover is really a satyr (half man, half goat), his history teacher is a centaur (half man, half horse) and the Greek gods are alive and well, living on the top floor of the Empire State Building. This news is just the beginning for Percy because there is a major conflict happening among the gods over Zeus’ missing Lightning Bolt and Percy, Grover and their new friend, Annabeth (daughter of Athena) set out to solve the gods’ problems and save the world as we know it.
Their goal is to reach the Underworld where they believe they can get the Lightning Bolt back and save Percy’s mom. They set out on a cross-country trip that takes them to Medusa’s statue garden, the St. Louis Arch, Las Vegas and the perfect place for the entrance to Hades, Los Angeles. Along the way they are challenged by and fight off various monsters. As the adventure progresses, so does Percy’s confidence in himself. In the end, they return the bolt safely to Olympus, despite a betrayal by one of their fellow Half-Blood campers. The story is easy to read and feels very current (i.e. instant messaging) even though it incorporates ideas from ancient Greece. The characters are easy to relate to although they do lack some depth. Some serious concepts are also introduced such as the uncertain future of Western Civilization as we know it and the importance of caring for the environment. Riordan even offers aspects of Greek Mythology to explain some current events or situations like why people are afraid of the dark.
2006, 377 pages
Adventure, Character/Values, Fantasy, Friendship, Mythology, Physical/Mental Differences
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