Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Lightning Thief - Middle Grade Review

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson #1) by Rick Riordan (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Library - Audio

Description:  Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

Genre: Middle Grade

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been meaning to read the book for years and when I saw that my library had it on audio I decided now was the time.

My Impression:  I am coming very late to the party on this one!  My daughter discovered this series shortly after it came out and has gone on to devour pretty much everything Riordan has written.  I love mythology and despite that and all the buzz about this series I somehow never managed to pick this one up.  I was thrilled when I discovered that my library had the audio on it's digital site and since this is the year I'm trying to take more risks and read books I've been meaning to read I decided now is the time.

I was a little worried that it was going to be Harry Potter with Gods but it really didn't feel like it.  While there are some similarities (a world hidden from regular people, 3 teenagers saving the day, a boy who has never fit in) the tone was so different that it definitely didn't feel like I was stepping into Potter land.  Percy is a challenging kid.  He's making his way through boarding school after boarding school and stuff just always seems to happen to him.  He's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder but he is never a bully and I couldn't help but like him.

Even before the quest gets going I never felt like the pace was slow or that we were bogging down in world building.  Annabeth and Grover are perfect companions for the impulsive Percy.  I loved how Annabeth always had to have a plan and is very confident in her own abilities.  I enjoyed seeing how the friendship between the three develops and I was on the edge of my seat to see how the quest played out.  I loved how Riordan wove in elements of Greek mythology to the modern world and I will certainly never look at garden statues the same way again!

I'm so glad I finally took my first visit to Half Blood Hill and this is definitely a place I'm looking forward to visiting again soon!  I have to know what happens next!

Age-wise I think this would be a great book for 4th grade or so and up.  While there is some suspense there really isn't any on the page violence and it would be a fantastic way to get kids interested in the myths!.  Jesse Bernstein did a fabulous job as narrator.  He just sounded like I would imagine Percy sounds.  My only complaint was that I didn't love his interpretation of the Gods' voices but that's such a small part of the book it wasn't really a problem.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to picking up the 2nd book soon.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely.  This is a fun adventure story and I love the mythology elements and seeing how they were woven into a modern world.


  1. This is one MG story / series that I've been meaning to explore myself for the longest time! After your review, I'll have to see if my local library carries it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and jogging my memory on this series!

  2. I need to read this soon. I love mythology woven into the real world too, and audio seems like a great way to go with these. I have trouble with audio but maybe I should give it another try if my library has these- that's a great idea! And I like that they're clean for kids but still engaging enough for adults. That has to be hard to pull off!

  3. I don't usually read MG books but the whole mythology aspect of this has me interested. Great review!!

  4. I'm a huge Percy Jackson fan. It really doesn't feel at all like Harry Potter. Have you ever read Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo. Now that is a Harry Potter ripoff. But I'm really glad you enjoyed this. I think Riordan's books get better and better. The Heroes of Olympus series is really wonderful

  5. *claps* Can't say it enough...loved this series.

  6. I think Rick Riordan is a fun writer and love his dialogue. I read most of the second series of this but just a few of the first. It was hugely popular with the students I was teaching. Would imagine that on audio would be amazing.

  7. I've been wanting to read this one for awhile too and am so glad you enjoyed this, Katherine.

  8. I don't read MG as a rule but I love mythology and this has such long-running and consistent buzz that I think I need to check the library and give it a try. I know you listened to it, but I'm hoping print will be just as enjoyable.

  9. I have really liked this series so far! :)

  10. I really need to give audio a try. I usually read the books but there are times it would be nice to just listen, maybe when I walk. Glad to hear you liked the book.