Riordan fashions a modern tale of the Olympians that will keep you turning the pages with “The Lightning Thief.” Percy Jackson is a 6th grader with a lot of problems. Diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, school isn’t easy for him. His step-father is barely civil to him. Then there’s a horde of monsters who want to kill him. Things only get more complicated when he discovers he’s a son of Poseidon.
Percy is not invited back to his school, so his mother takes him down to the coast to spend some quality time with him. Unfortunately, their time together is ruined when monsters attack. Percy’s mom hurries to get him to Camp Half-Blood where he’ll be protected, but not before she disappears.
At the camp, Percy meets his old teacher, Chiron, and learns he’s a demigod – a half blood, son of a mortal woman and the god Poseidon. A part of him is thrilled to finally find a place where he belongs with friends, Luke, Annabeth, and Grover. A part of his is sad over the loss of his mother.
After visiting the oracle, Percy’s given a quest. Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen. Zeus holds his brothers, Poseidon and Hades responsible. Percy must discover who has stole the bolt and why. His journey takes him across America with Annabeth and Grover. Will Percy embrace his heritage as Poseidon’s son, or will he turn his back on the Olympians?
Riodan’s writing is crisp and sharp, engaging the reader from the get-go. His creativity shines, giving the Greek gods a unique, modern spin that allows them to relate to young readers while fueling their curiosity about Greek mythology.
Riodan uses a good economy of words to paint vivid pictures of his settings. The plot never lingers, moving at a brisk pace while holding the reader’s attention.
The main characters are interesting and complex, each having to face their problems. Percy can channel a lot of power as Poseidon’s son, but he must learn to tame his emotions so he can grow as a hero. Annabeth craves her father’s love, but finds it difficult to fit into his world as Athena’s daughter. Grover wants nothing more than to prove himself worthy to receive a seeker’s license, but the path his must take challenges his courage and bravery.
What I enjoyed most was watching Percy grow as a character. He’s got a good heart, but unless his traits are channeled in a positive way, he’ll never discover his true potential, and that’s a message middle school children can relate to.
“The Lightning Thief” is well written, riveting, and full of action that will take young readers on the adventure of a lifetime.