If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I’ve been a fan of Rick Riordan for over a decade, and still follow his mythology-themed books. However, it’s been years since I read some of them, so I thought I’d revisit them now, starting with Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
The first book in this series, The Lightning Thief, introduces us to Percy Jackson, a twelve-year-old with a complicated childhood. He has ADHD and dyslexia (cannot believe it’s spelled like that—cruel linguists!), which makes his education less straightforward. However, a further wrench is thrown into his life when a monster attacks him while on a field trip, followed by the revelation that his best friend is a satyr. Then, in a bizarre accident, a minotaur attacks and his mother disappears. From there he learns he is a demigod—son of Poseidon, in fact—and must go on a quest before the Greek gods go to war with each other.
This book has a fantastic cast of characters. Percy is such a fun, sarcastic, sympathetic narrator. His friends Annabeth and Grover are wonderful too—smart and funny in their own right, but also possessing distinct personalities that contrast and complement Percy’s. Others such as Sally, Chiron, Luke, Dionysus, Hades, and Ares are also great; they make this world feel real and lived-in.
Some might feel that we have to wait a long time for Percy’s quest to begin, but I didn’t mind waiting. Riordan is wise to build a solid foundation (establishing how Camp Half-Blood operates, backstories for the gods, and some demigod lore) before sending Percy off. For me, this worldbuilding is interesting and enjoyable and doesn’t drag whatsoever.
The quest itself might seem a little meandering—which is probably the easiest criticism to make about the series overall—but this doesn’t bother me either. Percy always has his goal in mind and tackles each obstacle in terms of that. Each event is exciting to read, and often funny even while being dangerous (for example, a chimaera is initially disguised as a pampered chihuahua). Furthermore, I like watching Percy grow into his powers and learn more about the world of Greek gods he’s been thrust into.
Though nostalgia might be influencing me during this series-reread, in the end, The Lightning Thief is an entertaining romp through the bizarre, dramatic realm of Greek mythology. It’s a modern middle grade treasure that lays the groundwork for a stellar series while also being a delightful, self-contained adventure.
Overall rating: 8.5/10