Review: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
The Good, the Bad and the Continuablity Review
I thought I’d try something different for this review. Rather than a block of text, the review is broken into three sections: the Good, the Bad, and the Continuability. I think I made up that last word. By continuability, I mean how likely I am to read the next book in the series based on this book.
Let’s get to it!
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Young adult, urban fantasy
Twelve year old Percy Jackson has problems. ADHD and dyslexia make school tough. Percy’s magnetism for disaster makes it all but impossible. Things just seem to go wrong when Percy is around: such as the day his algebra teacher becomes a Fury hell-bent on disembowelling him. And (even stranger) with a little help, Percy is able to turn a pen into a sword and lop his transformed teacher in two.
This bizarre disaster means Percy is forced to change schools yet again. However, this time the change will be more drastic than anything he can imagine. And sure Greek is his best subject – but when Percy is enrolled in Camp Half Blood, a summer school for the children of Greek gods, his life unravels at his feet. He’s thrown into a new world of monsters, mortal heroes, fighting for his life, and the ever-changing whims of the gods.
*Action scenes. Though short, these were frequent, and with quite a few boss battles thrown in as well. The action was fluid, believable and clever. Perfectly suited to a modern Greek epic.
*The Greek. Riordan’s fusion of Greek myth and contemporary Western civilisation was seamlessly done. Many of the gods and creatures take on two aspects – Charon both a wheelchair-bound teacher and a centaur, the algebra teacher / Fury, and many more. A lot of fun was in guessing which character was what, and the Greek references added a real sense of the epic to Percy’s adventures.
*The token bad guys. Hades and Ares act as some of the primary antagonists; nothing new there. But a World War II reference puts the Allies as the children of Poseidon and Zeus, and Axis as the sons of Hades. Hades, really? Come on!
*The line “Somehow, I knew…” This line is used to explain every Greek reference or oddity that Percy somehow understands without prior explanation. But we get it! Percy is the son of a Greek god, he doesn’t need a reason to understand. Repeating “Somehow, I knew” a dozen or so times throughout the story doesn’t explain anything anyway, and it comes across as trite and unprofessional – so why use it?
Percy Jackson wasn’t a story I dreaded finishing. It was an end I’d been anticipating, and I was curious to see if my wild suppositions were right (they were.) It was an engaging, energetic, good-humoured and emotive ride, a real modern fantasy epic. The action scenes were tight, the main cast had interesting backstories and were passable leads; and more than that, I’m just plain intrigued to see where Riordan will take the story.
I will definitely continue reading this series. If you’re fond of classic culture or heroic epics, and especially if you have a young one who isn’t fond of reading, Percy Jackson is worth your time.
I’m giving it 3 ½ stars.