The Lightning Thief: a book recommendation

17 Aug

by Susan Dennard

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I have to say, I’m not usually a middle grade reader. I typically pick up YA, and if it weren’t for recent forays into writing MG, I wouldn’t have probably ever started the Percy Jackson series.

And oh how tragic that would have been.

Yes, this is a repeat review from my blog, but no, it’s not because I’m being lazy. It’s because you NEED to read this. As writers, you need to pick this up and observe how well Rick Riordan controls his craft.  From voice to plot to characterization, this book does it all REALLY well.

And come on, what’s not to love about modern day Greek myths and fish-out-of-water (quite literally) heroes?

After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There’s little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.

As hinted above, the voice had me hooked on page 1. Percy is just so compelling and so entertaining. I love his sarcasm and the way you feel like he’s just a regular dude telling you his very non-regular story.  He feels twelve, but he also feels like an adult (read: CROSS-OVER APPEAL!).

If the voice hadn’t gotten me so thoroughly, then the characters would’ve been the thing to draw me in. I loved Annabeth (kick butt secondary females unite!) and Grover–not to mention all the gods and demi-gods and monsters. Yeah, Riordan did an amazing job bringing this world to very vivid life before my eyes. I loved how he dropped in all the Greek myths–and I had so much fun identifying things before Percy sorted it all out.

What really got me (in a good way), though, was that it had so many nice twists and turns! Figuring out who the bad guys were, what the prophecy referred to, and seeing it all set up for Major Epic-ness in later novels made this one un-put-down-able book!

If you’re looking for some great adventure, the sort of lovable hero who just barely scrapes by, or a world of gods and goddesses, be sure to read The Lightning Thief!

Have you read The Lightning Thief? What did you think?

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Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, will be available from Harper Children’s in 2012. You can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.

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16 Responses to “The Lightning Thief: a book recommendation”

  1. Nicole August 17, 2011 at 4:15 AM #

    Irony: Just started this series. About to start reading the third book!

    • Susan August 19, 2011 at 1:43 AM #

      Awesome! I still have to BUY the second book, and I’m being really stubborn about wanting it in book form (instead of my usual Kindle form). But next time I’m in the States, you can guess what I’m buying!! 😀

  2. Chele August 17, 2011 at 7:31 AM #

    YES! I love love LOVE this series – first time I discovered the books I didn’t have the money to buy them for myself (sadface), so I’d spend hours and hours standing in my local bookstore reading. The day my sister bought the series was the day… I very dramatically begged her to let me keep them ;P

    I adore these characters, and the way Riordan weaves in all the mythology has me in friggin’ AWE. You should check out his other series if you haven’t already! THE KANE CHRONICLES is on Egyptian mythology – SO good. And there’s the sequel to THIS series, which is just..agh. I have no words. Seriously, I’m having little spasms of joy just thinking about how EPIC the first book (THE LOST HERO) was. ;D

    • Susan August 19, 2011 at 1:44 AM #

      Wow, you’ve just made me DROOL for that new series. I was totally oggling it on Amazon the other day…I love the cover!

      And that is awesomely hardcore–reading the books IN the store. I used to do that with Nancy Drews when I was wee lass. Hardcore Readers Unite!

  3. Marina August 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM #

    The one problem that I have with the series, which I think is awesome, is that Athena has kids, when she is known for being one of the virgin goddess. That’s my only problem with it, otherwise, it’s great.

    • Susan August 19, 2011 at 1:46 AM #

      Oh no, Marina! I had no idea that Athena was a virgin goddess…I just googled it, and shucks. Of course, if people take all the lore I have about grimoires in SS&D seriously, they’re gonna be learning a few (read: almost all) false facts… That said, Greek mythology is a much more universal lesson than grimoires and necromancy. 😉

  4. Sally Apokedak August 17, 2011 at 12:07 PM #

    Well, I wouldn’t have commented, but since you specifically asked… I read half of the first book and set it down and forgot all about it.

    I didn’t hate it. Nothing in the writing struck me as bad or painful. I simply didn’t care about the main character at all. Didn’t fear for him, wasn’t rooting for him, didn’t care if he lived or died. I have no idea why, because I didn’t analyze it. I didn’t dislike the character. But I didn’t like him, either.

    And you loved his voice and felt like you knew him and loved it. Odd, isn’t it? This reading stuff really is very subjective.

    • Susan August 19, 2011 at 1:47 AM #

      Interesting! I love how subjective reading is because it means that SO many more books and authors have a chance! I’m reading a book now that has gotten so much hype and that some of my closest friends adored, but…meh–I’m just not sinking into the story!

  5. Ella Schwartz August 17, 2011 at 3:48 PM #

    My son is literally obsessed with this series. He could not put it down. As a result, he became so fascinated with anything Greek Mythology that he hunted down other books on this topic. He even wrote a book of his own based on Greek mythology (it was very cute). My son loves Rick Riordan. We have been to several book signings and Rick is a super nice guy. My son has to be his biggest fan (incidentally, the other Riordan books are also amazing…not just the Lightning Thief Series). Thank you Rick Riordan for a great series that sparked my sons love for mythology, literature, and truly awesome MG reading.

    • Susan August 19, 2011 at 1:48 AM #

      I LOVE hearing stuff like this! THIS is why I want to write MG–the authors I started reading when I was 8-12 are the ones I still remember with the greatest fondness. They’re the authors that led me to other books and other areas of life and learning!

      And I am SO jealous you’ve been to book signings. This is…this is pretty epic. Your son sounds like a really cool kid!

  6. Leah Scrimshaw August 17, 2011 at 4:32 PM #

    I’ve been meaning to read this for ages (literally, years, since I first saw it on the desk in the school library), but felt to embarrassed to take it out from the library, so I took advantage of doing lots of work there this summer and loaned it to myself. Amusingly, when S J Maas posted her status on facebook about being on page, um, 97 (?), I was about 20 pages ahead, and was equally thinking that I should have read this earlier. Goodness, I get enough children’s books out from the library not to need to be embarrassed. (I just love that sort of age grop of book – MG I think – far more than YA.)

    • Susan August 19, 2011 at 1:51 AM #

      Yeah, MG has really grown on me lately. Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t start it sooner! (I think Savannah Foley came to the same conclusions recently as well!)

      And, um, that’s so cool you can just LOAN the book to yourself. I have job envy right now.

  7. Katelyn L August 17, 2011 at 8:48 PM #

    Between your posts about this book and Sarah’s posts, I’m starting to think that I seriously need to get my hands on this. Yet another book for my to-be-read list… It’s starting to get daunting how much I need to read 🙂

    • Susan August 19, 2011 at 1:49 AM #

      Oh boy, Katelyn, I KNOW. My TBR pile is terrifying. But if you’re ever considering writing MG, then you MUST start with this book. 😀

  8. thiskidreviewsbooks August 17, 2011 at 9:23 PM #

    I really liked the Percy Jackson and the Olympian books. The first book of the next series “The Lost Hero” is really good too. I like Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles even better than the Percy Jackson books. I even got my grandmother reading that series! Great Post!

    • Susan August 19, 2011 at 1:51 AM #

      I hadn’t even heard of the Kane Chronicles until recently, and I’m so excited to start them. Also, I gotta say: I LOVE that you’ve gotten your grandma to read this! WIN!

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