When the audience of a book is so powerful that they are able to petition the author to pursue a deal converting it to a television series (set to be released on Disney Plus), there is little debate as to whether the book and series is worth reading.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is the novel that set Rick Riordan on the path to becoming one of the most prolific young adult authors of this generation. The novel follows the story of 12 year old Perseus ‘Percy’ Jackson who discovers he is the son of the Ancient Greek God Poseidon. After attacks from two of Greek mythology’s most powerful monsters, (the Fury Alecto, and the Minotaur), Percy makes his way to Camp Half-Blood, where he learns the true nature of his parentage and meets other demigods like himself.
Warning, spoilers below…
Now becoming the centrepiece of a conspiracy around the disappearance of Zeus’ master lightning bolt, Percy finds himself on a quest accompanied by the daughter of Athena, Annabeth, and Grover the Satyr to find the lightning bolt before a war breaks out between the Gods.
What makes this book so clever and entertaining is Riordan’s ability to use his own knowledge of the Ancient Greek deities and mythology, and put a modern twist on them. Fittingly enough the knowledgable reader will notice the parallels to this book and the myth of Perseus, both of whom slayed the Gorgon Medusa. He does this throughout the novel (and series) in keeping Percy, Annabeth, and Grover’s adventure loosely based on actual Greek myths, one of which being the ‘Titanomahkia’ (the war between the Gods and the Titans).
Riordan also had a magnificent way of personifying the Gods of Greek mythology through their most well known traits in both a relatable and somewhat factual manner, regardless of how popular or unpopular it might make them. He does this specifically well midway through the book where the God of War,Ares enlists the young Heroes help to avoid a trap for he and Aphrodite, set by his brother Hephaestus, Aphrodite’s husband, who would often design contraptions to catch the two Gods in their affair.
But what makes this book so enjoyable, above all else, is Riordan’s character development of his main protagonists. It is no easy task to create a strong story line between two characters whose parents have a godly hatred for one and other, let alone lay the ground work for one of the best young adult love arcs.
This does bring me to my most important point of this article. If there is only one thing that stays with you after reading this post, please let it be this. No matter how much you enjoyed, or love this book, DO NOT EVER WATCH THE MOVIE! The fact that Riordan himself has publicly shamed the on screen adaptation of his novels, describing it as “his life’s work being put through a meat grinder,” speaks volumes.
All in all this book receives a 9/10 rating on account of a very strong plot, great character development, and the author’s ability to lay the foundation for the books that follow.
More of Rick Riordan
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Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Daughter of the Deep
The Lost Artefacts
If you like the Rick Riordan books then you’ll love The Lost Artefacts series.
Runner up in the 2021 TCK Publishing Reader’s Choice Awards!