Muskogee Public Library's Third Thursday Book Club discussion

The Lightning Thief(2010-11) > Discussion Questions for "The Lightning Thief"

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message 1: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Jones (jjesper82) | 19 comments Mod
Hey all! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year/Any other Holiday. We return this month (on January 20th at 7:00 PM) with our Juvenile/YA Book "The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan. Below are some discussion questions. I do recommend that you read the book before looking at these questions.

And, as always, feel free to post your thoughts here. Especially, if you won't be able to make it to the meeting.


1. Percy has been diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The main traits of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The ADHD child often has trouble keeping his mind on one thing and organizing a task. He feels restless and fidgety. He may blurt out comments or act without thinking. Does this profile fit Percy? Discuss how Percy does/does not seem like an ADHD child.

2. Percy says, “Mr. Brunner expected me to be as good as everybody else, despite the fact I had dyslexia and I had never made above a C- in my life. No—he didn’t expect me to be as good. He expected me to be better.“ What do you think of Mr. Brunner as a teacher?

3. When describing his mother, Percy says, “She’s the best person in the world, which just proves my theory that the best people get the rottenest luck.” How does this apply to Percy’s mom? Is this theory true in life? In the Greek myths?

4. Percy gets exasperated with his mother because she puts up with Smelly Gabe, yet he is proud of her because “she did have a rebellious streak, like me.” Do you find Sally Jackson a strong character? Does she stand up for herself? For her son?

5. Percy’s first encounter with an Olympian god is Mr. D, Dionysus. Initially, Percy has a hard time believing Mr. D is immortal. What is your reaction to the way Dionysus is portrayed in the book? The Greek gods have very human traits—would this make them easier or harder to believe in?

6. Chiron describes Western Civilization as “a living force. A collective consciousness that has burned bright for thousands of years.” He says the Greek gods are part of this, and move around as different nations become the central power of Western Civilization—Greece, Rome, Germany, France, England, the United States. What do you think of this idea? Is “the West” a clearly identifiable cultural force?

7. Annabeth is the daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and warfare. Read the description of Athena in this guide. Look at some of the myths about Athena, including the stories of Arachne, Medusa and the founding of Athens. How is Annabeth like her mother? Does anything about Annabeth’s character strike you as unlike Athena?

8. After Percy learns he is a half-blood, he wonders who his own father is. He also learns that some half-bloods never find out. He says, “I thought about some of the kids I’d seen in the Hermes cabin—teenagers who looked sullen and depressed, like they were waiting for a call that would never come. I’d known kids like that at Yancy Academy, shuffled off to boarding school by rich parents who didn’t have the time to deal with them. But gods should behave better.” How would you feel if you were in Percy’s place? Would it be easier to believe your father was dead, or to know that he was alive but not communicating with you?

9. When Percy finally learns the truth that he is the son of Poseidon, are you surprised? What hints are dropped before the revelation? How does Percy’s personality fit/not fit the god Poseidon?

10. Throughout the book, humor is used to counterbalance the serious situations Percy faces. For instance, the Minotaur wears white Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear, and Percy wants to tell the mummified Oracle, “thanks, wrong door, just looking for the bathroom.” What’s your reaction to the book’s humor? Does it seem appropriate for a sixth-grade narrator? Does it change your perception of the mythology?

11. When describing the effects of Mist, Chiron says, “Remarkable, really, the lengths humans will go to fit things into their version of reality.” How is this true in the novel? In Greek mythology? In real life?

12. Medusa tempts Percy to stay with her as a statue. She warns him that he is simply a pawn of the Gods. Does Percy seem like a pawn? Why or why not? If you were given Percy’s quest, would you undertake it or would you rebel?

13. Read Grover’s account of the search for Pan in chapter 12. Percy wonders if this is a hopeless quest, trying to reclaim the spirit of the wilderness. Do you think the search for Pan is an appropriate metaphor for modern man’s relationship with nature? Is “the wild” being lost forever?

14. Dreams play an important role in the narrative. At Montauk, Percy first dreams of a horse and eagle fighting on the beach. Later, he dreams of a voice from the pit. As he gets closer to Los Angeles, his dreams get scarier and more specific. What would the book be like without these dream episodes? Is there information that Percy can only get from his dreams?

15. Percy’s fight with Echidna and the Chimera is a low point for his morale. He begins to doubt that he is capable of being a hero. Why does he feel this way, and do you think his doubts are reasonable? What does this fight scene reveal about Percy’s character?

16. The god Ares says he loves America. He calls it “the best place since Sparta.” What does he mean? Do you think this is a fair critique of American society? Why or why not?

17. The Lotus Casino in Las Vegas is a modern-day version of the Land of the Lotus Eaters, which Odysseus visited on his way back from Troy. Read the original version from The Odyssey. How do the two accounts differ? Is the danger Odysseus faced similar to the danger faced by Percy and his friends? Is society today more dominated by “Lotus Eaters”"?

18. As the book progresses, we learn more about Annabeth’s family life, and her unhappy history with her father. How does this compare with Percy’s own family? How does this help the two half-bloods overcome their mutual distrust?

19. Read the modernized description of the Underworld in Ch. 18—the EZ Death line, the security ghouls, the pollution in the River Styx. What do you think of this portrayal of the afterlife? Percy says Asphodel makes him depressed because “so few people did good in their lives.” Do you think believing in paradise and punishment makes people more likely to do good deeds? What do you think of the Greek concept of Asphodel, a neutral area where most of the dead are sent to do nothing for eternity?

20. Percy’s trip to the Underworld does not turn out as he suspected. What do you think of Percy’s decision to leave his mother behind? What does the scene in the throne room tell you about the three friends—Annabeth, Grover and Percy?

21. When Percy finally meets his father, Poseidon seems distant and hard to read. Percy says that he is actually glad about this. “If he’d tried to apologize, or told me he loved me, or even smiled—that would’ve felt fake. Like a human dad, making some lame excuse for not being around.” Do you agree with Percy? Do you find yourself liking Poseidon or not?

22. How does the last line of the prophecy—you shall fail to save what matters most in the end—come true? What do you think of this ending? Did Percy make the right choice? What would you have done in his place?

23. In the end of the book, do you sympathize at all with Luke’s feelings of betrayal? How does his story act as a foil (a counterpoint) to Percy’s own?

message 2: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Jones (jjesper82) | 19 comments Mod
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