Saturday, April 17, 2010

Guest Book Review -- Percy Jackson and the Olypmpians: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Guest post by Daisy Dad

I am not a blogger. I am not a prolific reader like my wife. Most times I would rather watch the movie than read the book (I know – sacrilege!) and then if the movie is good I will have the best intentions to go back and read the book, but 9 times out of 10 I will not. I always tease my wife about starting a book club for men where we pick a book and instead of reading it we would watch the movie remake instead. Any husbands out there want to start? I digress. Anyway, I will confess that I have only read a few books since my dearly beloved Harry Potter series ended with a flourish of warm fuzzes in Deathly Hallows. It was very hard to pick up a book or a book series that so completely captured my imagination that I had completely lost interest in reading. I tried Wally Lamb (one of my favorites) but it is still on the shelf. I read a great book about the Southern Italian Mafia – but non-fiction doesn’t count. So when my wife said she did not have the time to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians – The Lighting Thief – to see if it was appropriate for our 9 year old to read, I reluctantly agreed.

First let me say, Percy ain’t no Harry and Rick Riordan ain’t no J.K. but I reluctantly enjoyed the book. Mr. Riordan creates a world that seems real – one that could co-exist within our own reality – something that Hogwarts does not. As Percy learns of his true identity with the aid of his friend Grover, the historic framework of the Greek gods and a possible scenario of how they are more than just myths and how their actual existence could explain many current events were intriguing to me. Yes, this is Juvenile literature but one with a sophisticated edge. Could the Greek gods be just that, Gods? Of course the more you think about it the more farfetched it becomes, but if you let down your BSmeter just for a little while, Mr. Riordan weaves some interesting theories about the continued existence of Zeus and his brothers and sisters.

This cross country adventure is not without its faults. At times it is too cinematic (and no, I have not seen the movie). Too often when filmmakers use real places and they take license to manipulate the reality of those real places, it becomes harder to believe. Let me just say the scene in the St. Louis Arch is a little farfetched – even for a filmmaker. I also wished that I had a better grasp of the Greek gods and heroes. I think a refresher course (or an introductory course for younger readers) would only make this book more enjoyable and even culturally stimulating – for older or younger readers. I remember enjoying D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths as a youth and will be having my father send it to me so my daughter can be a bit more familiar with some of the mythology that is introduced.

There is one event in the book that, even though it is resolved to the good in the end, may be a bit disturbing for young readers. So, without spoiling it for you, why don’t you read it too before you let the young one read it. You will enjoy it. I am off to start #2 – The Sea Monsters.

Don’t worry Harry, I still like you better!

Book source: personal copy

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alison said...

Eli loved the Percy Jackson series. But let me just say - the movie is NOTHING like the book. Shocking, I know but it was really off.

Stephanie Soper said...

Mike, you're a GREAT blogger! Sousal qualities must rub off. I haven't read the Percy Jackson series, though I have a friend with 3 boys who says they love the books and I must try them. But like you, I think Harry might have set the bar so high that no one will vault over it but him.