Kate's Reviews > The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
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's review
Dec 01, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009, age-middlegrade, age-ya, fantasy
Read in December, 2009

This book has been very popular at my library, but I only picked it up after hearing about the movie coming out and deciding that I would like to do an "Olympians Party" as a library program.

I had feared that this would be a rip-off of Harry Potter, and while there were certain similarities, the tone of the book was different enough that I wasn't analyzing it the whole time. Perseus "Percy" Jackson, a 12-year-old with ADHD and dyslexia, suddenly discovers that he's a demigod or half-blood when his Algebra teacher turns into a Fury and attacks him. Luckily, one of his other teachers is actually Chiron, and his best friend turns out to be a satyr assigned to protect him. Now that the world of the gods knows about Percy, he has to go to Camp Half-Blood, a training ground for demigods. Not all demigods are in as much danger as Percy: he's the son of Poseidon, who had vowed with Zeus never to have another child. That means lots of gods are angry that Percy is even alive. Percy is then sent on a quest to find Zeus's lightning bolt and prevent a clash of the titans.

There was quite a bit of the old mythology worked into this story, and I liked meeting all the monsters and trying to figure out who they really were (my mythology knowledge is a little rusty, so I wasn't too successful). The significant traits of each god/monster was updated to modern times but memorable enough that this might actually help kids remember Greek mythology. It was this modernness (and Percy's often sarcastic narration) that set this apart from Harry Potter, which never seemed to be tied to any particular year to me - while some modern things are mentioned, it was still a shock for me to see Dudley wearing those modern clothes in the "Order of the Phoenix" movie, and for the most part, Harry Potter could have taken place at any point in the last 50 years.

Of course, there was the whole sidekick similarity: really smart girl and accident prone guy, as well as another student who is on the evil team. Then there was the idea of a villian who had been defeated before but who is trying to make a comeback. Even the going to school and discovering he's someone great and he had no idea, the teacher who hates him for who he is, the teacher who gives him challenges and treats him like he's special when he's not entirely convinced that he is. However, I tend to think that these are archetypes that show up in a lot of stories, and I don't think Riordan stole these ideas from Rowling at all. Rowling was a classics major.

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message 1: by Ellen (new) - added it

Ellen Oohh. Now I totally want to read this.I love books that are mythology related, so i think I'll read this. Also, Rick is really popular,soo. I like reading books that are (or books by authors) that are famous. :)

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