Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Information on series: First of five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
Audience: Middle grade, though with plenty of appeal for readers of any age who love a good adventure story
Rating (scale of 1-5, with 5 being highest): 4
TL;DR: An action-packed quest story whose young hero was written off as a bad kid, but really he has supernatural abilities straight out of Greek myth.

Longer review:
On a recent road trip, we started and abandoned several audiobooks, nothing quite working for both of us. That is until we started The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (as read by Jesse Bernstein). In fact, we loved it so much that when we got home before finishing the last disc, we moved from the car straight to the couch. Neither of us had been terribly excited to listen to this book, I'd started and abandoned the print edition, he'd seen the underwhelming movie adaptation, but in the end it was a highlight of our very long drive. We were looking for a book that combined adventure and humor, and that is exactly what we got.

The Percy Jackson series is based on the idea that the Greek gods of ancient myth are not only reality, they are active forces in the modern world, who still have the bad habit of having half-god children with mortal men and women. Percy Jackson (spoilers) discovers that he is the son of an unknown god, which gives him unusual powers and mark him out as a target for evil forces. That some of his special abilities (a natural aptitude for ancient Greek, hyperaccelerated reflexes) manifest as learning disorders (dyslexia, ADHD) that mark him out as a "bad kid" in the mundane world is an inspiring touch. While your average reader isn't likely to be a demigod, the message that sometimes our strengths lie in what makes us different, even if that means we can never be normal.

While I know this book, series, and author has a very large fan base, I never would've considered suggesting this series to adults before checking out the audiobook myself. That's the magic of a skilled audiobook narrator, they can take a good book and turn it into something even better.

Read alikes:
Rick Riordan: The obvious read alike, he expands on Percy Jackson's world in the Heroes of Olympus series, explores Egyptian mythology, and his newest series, Magnus Chase, which takes on norse mythology.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins: Before she wrote The Hunger Games, Collins wrote a series about a young boy's adventures in a secret kingdom under the streets of New York City (warning: there are rats, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlies).

Hounded by Kevin Hearne: Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles are NOT for children or young readers. This is a decidely adult urban fantasy series set in an Arizona overrun by the gods of Celtic mythology.

~Sarah, Carnegie-Stout Public Library

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