Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 1: The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan *****

This book was written by an author that I didn’t actually know before this past week. Now that I’ve found him though, I won’t be letting go. I plan on buying the next book in the series ASAP.

While I was in CA, my youngest sister and I were in the bookstore (one of our favourite places to be) and I saw this book sitting on the shelf up front. As soon as I saw it my first thought was “Interesting title and cover”. As soon as I opened the book I was hooked. The first lines made me adore the main character instantly, not only was he believable as a 12-year-old boy and someone youths could relate to but I thought he was funny as an adult. Riordan’s writing is quick-witted enough to entertain all ages.

As a teacher I’m thinking about using this with my 9th grade students to teach the Hero Journey. Not only does it allude and stay faithful to a vast amount of Greek Mythology (something that endears Riordan to me even more as I am Greek and grew up knowing those stories) but it does a good job at making them fun and adding a modern, urban flare to them. The other thing that endears Riordan to me is the fact that his main character has ADHD and Dyslexia, both of which are described perfectly in the book and make Percy feel more like reality than fiction even when he’s meeting up with Medusa or Zeus. Beyond the fact that Percy has these very real problems are the reasons for which he has them: he’s dyslexic because his brain is wired for Ancient Greek and has ADHD because his instincts are wired for battle.

Just like Harry Potter bridges the age and generational gaps so does The Lightening Thief. The story of Percy Jackson is humorous, fast-paced, and action oriented. The characters practically leap off the page at you as soon as you crack the cover. Initially, one sees a lot of superficial similarities to HP: Percy is an orphan with green eyes and a brainiac girl and a geeky awkward guy for best friends, they all go on a quest, there are the set of bullying students, he goes to a special school to train, and finds that if he fails all Hell will break loose. Riordan makes these references knowingly and with humour. Even though he is subtly referencing the HP books throughout, nothing seems stale or overdone and it reads incredibly differently than Rowling’s books do. The action in this book begins on page one and keeps moving from there. It is a definite must-read for all ages.

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