Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan


The gods of Olympus are alive in the 21st Century. They still fall in love with mortals and have children who might become great heroes, but most of these children meet horrible fates at the hands of monsters by the age of twelve. Only a few learn the truth of their identity and make it to Half Blood Hill, a Long Island summer camp dedicated to training young demigods. Such is the revelation that launches young Percy Jackson on a quest to help his real father, Poseidon, avert a war among the gods. With the help of Grover the satyr and Annabeth the daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction - Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, they face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop them. Most of all, Percy must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.

I relished reading this and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I knew some of the story, from having picked the books up previously in various shops and reading about them online and I was therefore absolutely thrilled when Puffin Books decided to send me the first three in the series to read.

Rick Riordan writes with supreme ease from the first person perspective as Percy. Percy is your average kid who tries to make it through the normal school day without getting into trouble, but it’s hard to do when your teachers try and do you serious damage. He manages to survive an attack by his maths teacher but something weird is going one else seems to recall her ever teaching at his school! Things get a bit weird from there onwards.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s style of writing. It is humorous and witty and quite tongue in cheek. Percy never becomes a chore to read and his friends, Annabeth and Grover have been established for future books. I’ve not read any of the other covers of the series as yet, so I’m going in blind, but I hope they make a come-back, purely because there is a lot of good stories to tell.

I enjoyed the light touch the author had when it came to explaining who the deities were and why they were alive and well and occupying the Empire State Buidling’s topmost floor. It is a well researched book giving you an interesting ride through classical mythology along the way, without it impacting on the pace of the book. My favorite does have to be Mr. D, who runs the Half Blood Hill training school. Dumbledore can move over – Mr. D rocks. Literally.

It is interesting to watch Percy struggle to accept his status as a demi-god and to see how he deals with the quest they decide to send him on. I found it interesting to see how he coped with the various stages of the quest, some of it truly hilarious, and found his solutions to some of the problems that came his way as very clever – almost A-Team / MacGuyver clever.

The writing is tight and clear and as I mentioned earlier, I am hoping that Percy’s friends make a come-back because every hero needs sidekicks who mirror them in order to show their strengths and impart wisdom. I particularly appreciated the end of the novel, where Percy turns a tricky situation over to someone else, leaving them to decide the “out”. Naturally the repercussion is something he will no doubt have to answer for later on, but I thought it was a deft way to show the Percy’s growth as hero.

A fun read, littered with enough mythological creatures to satisfy Angela Carter herself.

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