Another Great YA Series That's Good For Kids And Grown-Ups!
I held off buying The Lightning Thief for a couple years. The market seems glutted with YA fantasy at the moment, and I read quite a bit of it with my 9-year-old. We've discovered several good series, but The Lightning Thief seemed too long to hold his attention when it first came out.
This year we noticed it in the book fair at school, then saw that it was an Accelerated Reader book. So I picked it up and read a couple chapters to try it out. I was 50 pages into it when I realized I needed to be reading this to my son.
I did read it to him. We flew through the book (375 pages!) in 6 days because he kept pestering me to read it to him. We finished it up in a 5-hour marathon yesterday, hanging onto every page as Percy and his friends tried to save the world and put things to rights in their own lives.
The Lightning Thief is a great book for adults and kids. I've already recommended it to a couple of adult friends who experienced the same kind of can't-put-it-down pull that I did.
Percy Jackson, the hero of the book, comes across as every kid you'd ever meet or ever would. He's no brainiac (he has dyslexia and ADHD) but he has friends who are. But he is courageous and clever, stubborn and loyal. He is the best he can be, and he's getting even better.
Riordan works in many of the Greek myths in the novel. There was a time when knowing Greek mythology was a pre-requisite for having a "classical" education. Many morals and philosophies are presented in the tales.
From the very beginning of the novel, we find out Percy is different when he ends up fighting a harpy in the museum while on a school trip. He's been kicked out of 6 schools in 6 years, lives with his mom and step-dad, Smelly Gabe, an evil guy who deliberately makes Percy's life hard. Then, when he's on a well-deserved vacation with his mom, he finds out he's a Half-Blood, the son of one of the Greek gods. But his mom doesn't know who his dad was and that's just one of the mysteries Percy ends up solving.
The cool part of the book is peeling away all the mysteries of Percy's life and who really took Zeus's magic thunderbolt. Along the way he gains powers that set my son's head to spinning with hope and delight. Percy's a superhero without the costume, and there are plenty of villains in his world.
Riordan is a teacher who obviously loves kids as well as the subject matter. The Greek gods were a cantankerous lot, and Riordan delivers them well. Not only does he give his readers the stories, but he also brings the gods on stage and gives them personalities.
The series is supposed to run for 5 books. I think it will go on longer. I hope so. I've already ordered books 2 and 3, and my son and I are looking forward to them. The books take a while to read outloud to younger readers, but the effort is well rewarded. The story is rich and deep, and will keep your child's attention. In addition, you'd be surprised how much you can talk about even when you're not reading. And your child may just want to wander around the internet learning more interesting facts about Greek mythology.
The Lightning Thief is well worth reading and is probably in most public and school libraries.