The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

13500737I’ve wanted to read the Percy Jackson books for as long as I’ve known about them, but have never made the time. This fact is quite shocking knowing how many readers compare the novels to the Harry Potter series and how ridiculously in love with HP I am. Even my sister, a fairly lazy reader, has gotten around to this series! When I got this new job, I immediately needed some audiobooks to fill my long commute and thought Percy Jackson would be the perfect fit.

I know y’all know what this series is about. Percy, a middle-schooler, discovers he’s a demi-god and that all the Greek mythology is actually real life. In The Lightning Thief, Percy uncovers the truth about himself and fulfills his first hero quest – recovering Zeus’s lost lightening bolt power thingy. Along the way he becomes besties with Annabeth and Grover, demi-god and satyr, respectively. If you haven’t read the book, you’ve most likely seen the movie starring Logan Lerman.

I hadn’t listened to an audiobook since the beginning of 2012 when I gave up on the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. After getting re-accustomed to the format, I fell in sync with Percy and Jesse Bernstein’s reading of Percy fairly quickly. The story is a fast-paced romp – a road trip tale with action, adventure, and mythology in spades. Obviously, the book’s target audience is middle-grade readers, but adults can find something enjoyable in Percy’s quest as well. The writing wasn’t particularly stunning, but then I wouldn’t have expected it to be. Bernstein’s narration might grate on the nerves of some adults as his characterizations are decidedly teenage-esque, but I’m sure kids eat it up.

As far as the Harry Potter comparisons are concerned, they aren’t too off the mark. Riordan appears to have drawn great influence from the structure of the HP story. Three friends, hero man-child, great obstacles to overcome, and an evil trying to come back from some kind of dead place. But nothing about these similarities distracted me in this first book (the second is another story). I was able to overlook them with relative ease, perhaps because I’m currently a bit removed from the HP mythology and hype.

I’d recommend this book to those readers who are specifically interested in this particular middle grade story. I’m not sure it will win over any mythological naysayers, scholars, or those looking for the next Harry Potter. I know Percy gets lots of praise, and while I understand why, I’m not so sure I can jump on the bandwagon as quickly as everyone else. An enjoyable story, yes, but nothing special. An great audio to listen to while commuting through terrible Atlanta traffic. If I miss a line here or there, no need to rewind as everything is fairly easy to figure out on my own.

If you loved the Percy Jackson series, let me know why in the comments! Should I continue one with the third book because the second book is going rather slowly for me?

As a side note, the film drastically changes many of the book’s plot points. Be prepared for a very liberal interpretation and not a particularly well-done one. I did enjoy the actors who played Annabeth and Grover, however. One of my biggest complaints with the book was how underdeveloped Grover was. He had so much my potential and was my favorite character, but he wasn’t written thoroughly enough. I enjoyed him so much more in the movie!

11 thoughts on “The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

  1. My kids have read and loved these books, but I have only seen the movie, and I wasn’t that impressed with it. It was ok, just a little chessy and definitely made for the younger set. I can’t say whether or not you should stick with the books, only that my kids seemed to love them all. Very thoughtful post today. You were able to compliment the books without going overboard, and listed some of the problems you had with the audio very succinctly.

    • The movie was definitely cheesy. The books are as well, but I understand that they are targeted to children and can see the appeal for a much younger audience. They lack that certain something that HP had to pull in the adult crowd. I’d love to read these books aloud to children though!

  2. I read the first two. Really enjoyed the first book and the second was fine, but I have not continued which to me says a lot. Although to be fair, I didn’t rush out after reading The Hunger Games for the sequel either although I did eventually get around to it. I wouldn’t feel too bad about not continuing. They’re fun, but they’re not life-changers.

    • Definitely no life changing here! I’m tempted to give up the series as book two didn’t impress, but might give the third book a go based on the strength of recommendations.

  3. I was happy to see this post! I had watched the movie before reading the series. After reading the series, I only liked the movie a little less. I could see why Riordan’s fans were disappointed. Too much was changed!

    On top of that, the movie’s sequel’s coming out in August, and because of all the changes Movie One had, we can be sure Movie Two will have even more.

    I have read the entire Percy Jackson & The Olympians Series, and have just finished Book Two of The Heroes of Olympus, The Son of Neptune. The books are fast-paced and action filled, which I hope the movies can try and live up to!

    • The movies are definitely completely changed. I just finished book 2 and felt like it just dragged on and on. I think half my problem might be the audio. I might try actually reading book three to see if that helps!

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