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bookmarked: The Lightning Thief

I guess that I lied a bit in my last post, ’cause here I am reviewing another book… 

 The Lightning Thief Cover

Title: The Lightning Thief
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians::#1
Author: Rick Riordan
Format: eBook
Overall rating: 4 (out of 5)

So, I confess that I made a real mistake with this one. I watched the movie before reading the book. That was a big mistake!

Don’t get me wrong. The movie was ok. It had some attractive actors, lots of action and fun special effects. All of these things made for a mildly entertaining, but ultimately less-than-engaging movie.

I was determined to read the book someday, though. Other people seemed to enjoy it and I had to know why. That day was a long time coming, but now it’s here and I know why this book enjoys so much praise.

I really enjoyed The Lightning Thief. It is so, so much better than the movie. In fact, if you have seen the movie, forget everything but the names of the good guys, the bad guys and some of the locations and then read the book, because to me it seems like that’s all that really remained consistent in the conversion. Sad, but true! If you haven’t seen the movie, just read the book; you won’t be missing much.

Suffice it to say, the book was really quite better than I was expecting it to be. I was glad to see more mythology woven into the story than existed in the movie. I really enjoyed the more modern take on the traditional characters as well as the exploration of the melding of the mythology and mythological beings into contemporary American society. That being said, I wish these topics were explored a bit more in-depth, although I know that’s a lot to ask for in young adult fiction. Of course, inclusion of more of this descriptive information would also have slowed the pace of the book down for sure, likely ruining the fast-paced, action-oriented feel of the novel. The Classics major in me can wish, though, can’t he? Perhaps, looking on the bright side, the novel may spur some readers to delve deeper into the original stories!

As other reviewers have pointed out, there are several similarities to the Harry Potter series to be found in the book. From the personalities that form the group of three main questing characters to the magical training academy to the destiny foretold by prophecy, the similarities seem limitless; yet, even to a Harry Potter fan like me, the book didn’t feel derivative during reading. I attribute this success to Riordan’s creation of an enjoyable world that built upon a foundation of mythology I know and love. Ultimately, the book’s similarities with American Gods and it’s roots in Joseph Campbell’s monomyth felt more readily apparent to me while reading than did it’s resemblance to Harry Potter. Thoughts regarding the novel’s Harry Potter elements settled in afterwards, with a bit of reflection.

On the down side, the focus on ADHD and dyslexia as traits of the children of the gods, disturbed me a bit. Exactly what kind of message are we trying send to kids who actually suffer from these disorders? It rubbed me the wrong way…

Overall, I’m hooked enough to continue on with the series at some point in the near future. The Lightning Thief was an easy read (which is good for the intended audience) that combines Harry Potter-esque elements with a G-rated version of an American Gods style mythologically infested world model to create enjoyable reading magic.

The cover art that appears as part of this review remains under the protection of the original copyright owner.  It is used here in accordance with fair use guidelines.  If you are the copyright owner and you would like this image removed, please contact me.