03 January 2014

Review: The Lightening Theif by Rick Riordan

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How I got it: I won a copy.

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Okay, I want to take a moment to talk about why I liked this book. Because, clearly, by the time I’d finished reading it, the book had grown on me. It was fun and cute in the way that Harry Potter series started. It also had a few creative, endearing qualities that made me smile, or fine the writer witty. I think the secret to me enjoying this book was finally coming to terms with the intended audience. I have a difficult time reading these books, because someone always comes along and tells me, “Well it was written for twelve year olds…” and then I want to argue back that the book should have substance regardless of its audience, but oh well…

Riordan was pretty creative translating Greek mythology into a modern dialogue. He did a fine job at most of his characters. I think that the main characters were very well driven, with a few exceptions. I actually didn’t like Grover. He wasn’t funny, beyond a point-and-laugh factor that didn’t amuse me half of the time anyway.) Percy was very commendable, even though it took me a while at first to get attached to him. My other favorite character involved the gods themselves, because I could feel Riordan’s mature writing bleeding through as he wrote scenes that demanded a powerful tone and stronger characterization.
I only had two pet peeves that I absolutely refuse to get over. One, there were a few massive clichés. Ares has a motorcycle? Really? It seemed like poor, lazy characterization. And his children being hateful and detestable was unfortunate. I think the general idea was, “let’s throw these kids into a camp, give them across the board stereotypes according to which god they belong to, and make it seem completely understandable, but we won’t do it to the main characters.” There was just too many literalisms being tossed around that I thought Riordan was missing the part about being creative and just fell back on clichés.

Second, and I cannot stress this one enough… does NOBODY want to talk about the fact this camp is filled with children from gods who are just going down to earth and making babies with whoever they came across? Some of these kids are in the same age range. I just wanted to scream at the lot of them, “Your parents don’t love you, you are all the products of lust and one night stands.” I had a hard time coping with that many children from one god, and no one at least one mentioning it bothered them that they were just one among several kids born to their mother/father. Maybe it wouldn’t stand out to me so much if just one kid said, “I don’t feel unique, I don’t loved, and I hate being generalized and looked over.”

In the end, I looked over these problems and looked forward to them being resolved in later books, if they ever are. I think the fact I found the book fun was the reason I read it with such gusto, and why I want to read the rest of the series. I wonder, though, if it will get better with time. I have a feeling that the author’s voice matures with every book, and within every book. I really hope I’m right, because I could learn to love this series if it does.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your review of The Lightning Thief. It is a book I have read and enjoyed. I think it is a great book for kids (and adults) who don't like mythology because it gives them a way to connect to the gods, goddesses, and myths. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series even more. :)


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