26 March 2010

Book Review: The Lightning Thief

Title:  The Lightning Thief
Author:  Rick Riordan

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
Percy Jackson has been in and out of six schools in six years.  Diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, he just seems not made for the normal world.  As it turns out, he's not.  He's the son of a Greek God, who along with all the other Greek gods, is alive and well on Olympus.  When an item is stolen from Zeus, Poseidon is blamed, and Percy is sent on a quest to prevent a catastrophic war among the gods.

The Book
I love this story.  This is my second time reading it, and I still get a kick out of all the wonderful events in the book.  The plot line mirrors that of other hero stories: a quest with mini-challenges along the way, a bit of a twist to the actual conflict, a reluctant hero, and helpful friends.

In The Lightning Thief the action never stops.  Percy and friends Annabeth and Grover are constantly moving, constantly meeting a new challenge, making this book the type to read in as few sittings as possible.  I managed it in just two sittings this time around. Despite the fast-paced action, the book still has a lot to offer in the way of depth.  The reasoning behind what is happening, the history behind the monsters and the gods, this keeps me turning the page just as much as the excitement. 

The Movie
That depth is what is missing from the film.  Kronos, Luke, and Ares are either completely absent or so modified as to be unrecognizable.  This change to the story bothered me even though I know it was made to keep the film as a stand alone and be understandable to those who had not read the book.  Other changes annoyed me but weren't a big deal such as the change to Annabeth's appearance and personality, the addition of Persephone, and the changes to the quest activities itself.

One change that I felt was perfect is an increase in the ages of the characters.  In the book, Percy is only 12 years old, and that was my main problem with the book.  I could not for one second believe that Percy and company were so young.  The film has them around 16 or so, and that felt much more appropriate to the story. 

I made my mother and my husband go with me to see this on opening night.  They were condescending and reluctant to go, but - aren't I the smart one? - they loved it and so did I.

Addressing the Harry Potter Issue
1.  Riordan started the series before Rowling.
2.  Both stories share obvious similarities to other hero myths, because well, they are hero myths.
3.  The Lightning Thief film was better than the HP films in my opinion by a whole bunch.
4.  I love HP and Percy Jackson, and I don't see a problem with that.

Other Reviews of the Book
If I've missed yours, let me know!

Age 30+ Books; A Novel Menagerie; Becky's Book Reviews; Bibliofreakblog; 25 Hour Books; Multi-Genre Fan;

Other Reviews of the Movie
If I've missed yours, let me know!

Age 30+ Books; Today's Adventure; 25 Hour Books; Boys Rule Boys Read

FTC Disclosure: I got it from the library.  Seriously, it's my first library book in 20 years.  Isn't that great?
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge, Flashback Challenge, World Religions, Read the Book See the Movie, Once Upon a Time, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,


  1. I wrote a review of the book but I didn't like it for a number of reasons:

  2. Loved it! Loved it, loved it. In fact, I'm toying with the idea of downloading the second book, Sea of Monsters, on my Nook because I think it might just be the ONLY book in the world that could pull me out of my current reading slump. No pressure! lol

  3. I didn't reread the book before seeing the movie, and I went in knowing it was an entirely different plot. That way, i was able to keep them fully separated in my head and enjoy both. I have no idea how they're going to do sequel movies as they left out the main plot arc, but I guess we'll see. I really enjoyed Grover particularly, and didn't really like Annabeth (she sort of seemed to be mixed with Clarisse, which is weird).

  4. Quite a few reviews have mentioned that they thought the hero should be a bit older too.

  5. Jen - To each their own right? I'll add your review.

    Andi - I would recommend the second book as well; I just finished it today (for the second time).

    Amanda - I'm glad I had a chunk of time between reading the book and seeing the movie; I think it made it easier to enjoy the film without making too many comparisons. I'm really interested to know what they are going to do about sequels as well. Kronos has to come into play at some time.

    Jenners - Yep, when I'm reading, I just picture them all older. It works for me. :) Helps with the fantasies too right? ;) *that was a lascivious wink right there*

  6. I wasn't all that blown away by the movie (although it might have meant more to me if I'd read the book). I am bothered by plots that are too close to HP, but this one didn't seem close enough to care. I guess I will have to respectfully disagree about the HP films. I think they were, as a whole at least...no comment on HP 6) way better than what I saw in The Lightning Thief.

  7. I'm not really that excited to see the movie because of all of the changes I've heard about. I'll wait 'til the DVD. ;)

  8. Sandy - I think I'm one of those people who realize that HP is just copied from older SFF stories, so seeing something being like HP doesn't bother me at all. I know one of the reasons I am so against HP movies is that I just adored the books, and I am so familiar with them due to massive re-reads that I note every tiny change from book to film. :)

    J.T. - I would try to maximize the amount of time between when you read the book and when you see the movie. The more time separating those two events, the less likely you are to do too close of a comparison.

  9. Everything now compares to HP and I think that is such a shame. I wanted to read these but was afraid they would be a disappointment. Now I will definitely pick them up. Yea for library books. The library is a good place with lots of lonely books. Your bookshelves and wallet will thank you :)

  10. I agree. While I loved the Harry Potter books, they are not the be all-end all of YAL SFF. I am really enjoying the Percy Jackson series as it combines two of my favorite things: Greekness (gods, heros, monsters) and YAL. I hope you like them!

  11. I've heard great things about this book and so, even though I don't read too much Ya, I recently picked up a copy for myself which I plan to read soon.


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