Book Review: “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan

The Lightning ThiefI read a book a few weeks ago that put a really sour taste in my mouth and as a result I needed to cleanse my reading palate before I could read some of the other books on my reading list. Rick Riordan is an author I trust to have quality characters, moving plot, and a general quality hand when it comes to writing. As such I felt it would be good for me to read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series really quick before moving on to other things. Naturally I started with The Lightning Thief because it’s the first in the five book series.

The first thing I noticed about The Lightning Thief were the ages of the main cast of characters. For whatever reason I had it in my head that they were all in their middle to late teens. As it turns out, in the first book Percy Jackson is a rather young 12 years old. Overall, that’s okay because the author does a pretty decent job of writing the characters to match those ages. There are a few times when for the sake of the story the characters, especially Percy and Annabeth, need to make choices using a more mature mindset than you would expect from 12 or 13 year olds, but those instances are rare and they work well enough.

I loved reading The Lightning Thief for more than just the story though, I loved being reintroduced to the old Greek gods and their pantheon. I remember back in middle school and high school when we would discuss those gods from time to time and how interesting I thought all of them were. I think choosing to make Percy the some of Poseidon was an excellent choice, just like I thought the choice of making supporting characters the children of other Greek gods was amazing as well. I especially like how the Half-Blood camp was set up with houses for each group of children from each god.

There are a lot of interesting tidbits of information about Greek mythology scattered through the pages of The Lightning Thief. Some of them are obviously based in fact, and some of them seem like they might be made up to make the story more interesting or to drive home a particular plot point. Regardless, they all mesh together really well and I had a lot of fun reading the book.

Pacing of plot in The Lightning Thief was absolutely spectacular. Sometimes I read books like this one that are targeted towards the middle grade or slightly older audience and the pacing is really off. Things will take too long to develop, characters will languish in particular plot points, or the villains will drag their plans out for ten chapters too long. Rick Riordan doesn’t make those mistakes with this book. He lets the plot move, the characters breathe, and the villains get on with their general villainy. It was really fresh to move through a dynamic story and never feel once like I was being presented with frivolous or pointless prose.

If you are looking for something to read that won’t take you long to get through and will keep you engaged for an afternoon or a weekend, you might want to give The Lightning Thief a try. I consider it one of the better books of its type I’ve read in years and would heartily recommend it as an equal to Harry Potter in its entertainment value.

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