A Lightning Read
(A Book Review of Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief)
The Lightning Thief is the first book in The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan for young, middle grade readers. I first heard of the book during the time when the movie based on it was released, however, I wasn’t too keen to read it then learning to approach with caution everything that comes surrounded with media hype. Watching its awful film adaptation further made me steer clear from the book’s path — that is until someone lent me his book. Neither am I going to lament the fact that it took me so long to read this, rather, it equally proves that appreciation and enjoyment comes to those who bid their own sweet time, which the experience of finally reading The Lightning Thief gave me.
This first installment in the five-books series narrates the life of Percy Jackson, a boy of twelve years of age suffering from dyslexia and ADHD. The thing with Percy is that trouble seems to always find its way to him. Schools have rejected him on account of his strange behavior. In fact, everything that happens to Percy is anything but normal, most recent of which is the time when his Algebra teacher turned into a harpy in search for a mythical object which he doesn’t even possess. As Percy eventually learns he’s not an average joe, he’s a Half-blood, the son of the one of the Gods residing at Mt. Olympus.
Fast paced action is the way I would describe The Lightning Thief for each chapter is just filled with, well, action. My skepticism has gone wayside as the pages drew me into the adventures of Percy and his friends in search of Zeus’s lightning, the culprit who stole it, and as they discover how to save Percy’s mother from the clutches of the Underworld. Full of quirky characters both funny and clever, magic, monsters and sword fights, what’s generally appealing with the book (particularly to its male readers) is Percy’s voice capturing the traits, fears and mannerisms of any boy his age, along with his witty comments and funny asides thrown in the middle of the narrative. In addition, I found the book’s chapter headings quite interesting and hilarious.
On the other hand, their exploits, while brisk and succeeds in keeping the reader from nodding in between pages, is too much for my taste — there’s hardly time for any breather nor for the characters to reflect on or think about their current situation, which quite hampered character development for a bit. It even took the focus out of the reader to figure for his own the identity of the lightning thief.
Aside from its adorable protagonist, I think the center piece of the book is the Greek Mythology, the element on which the book and the entire series revolves and hinges on. Just this alone is enough to get the attention of Mythology buffs; it will likewise pump up the curiosity of readers who haven’t rubbed elbows yet with the Gods and Goddesses of Mt. Olympus. I deem the true beauty, if not ingenuity enough, of the book (and the series as well) is in how Riordan gives Greek Mythology a refreshing take in his believable and fantastic world building, infused in modern setting. Who knows that transferring the home of the Gods on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building while setting the doors of Hades’ abode at DOA Recording Studio somewhere on the streets of Los Angeles will come off fairly convincing.
I agree with the observation of some of my friends that similarities between this book and the Harry Potter series are not easy to shrug off. Some components in the story — the orphan who’s finds himself out of touch of his world; his friends; a brainy girl and lumbering, funny sidekick; the apparent school setting and student rivalries; some magical items (hullo invisibility helmet!) and powers and skills the protagonist at first don’t know but possess within — do strike a chord of semblance if you ask me.
Nevertheless, glaring as they seem to be, it’s rather forgivable on Riordan’s part who, undoubtedly, wrote a stunning book; truly, it’s one lightning of a read fashioned out of the good graces and enmities of the Gods above, delectable as honey and ambrosia if ever a mortal had the chance to taste such.
Book #28 for 2011
Published by Miramax Books
(Hardcover, 2005 Edition)
Started: July 14, 2011
Finished: July 19, 2011