by Rick Riordan
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
I saw the movie a few years ago and liked it, so I bought the box-set for my husband for Christmas. He plowed through them and then insisted I needed to read them soon too. Then one day he just plopped this one in my hand and said “read”, so I obliged.
I think I may have been resistant because I don’t go for “light” reads. I need high stakes and high emotions (which is why I mostly read YA). However, much like Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson series manages to be entertaining, fun, humorous and at the same time handle a very serious, high-stakes plot. I’m definitely not the first person to make the HP comparison, but it is relevant. Both are middle grade fantasy epics with sweeping world-building and absorbing narrative. It’s not a rip-off at all. Rowling sourced Harry Potter from a plethora or myth and lore, but Percy Jackson is firmly rooted in the Greek mythological tradition. This is just SO MUCH there. I’m a lifelong mythology buff and I was still researching Greek mythology every few chapters or so, not because it was necessary to understand the plot (it’s not – you can have zero knowledge of mythology and still understand and like the story), but because my interest was peaked and I wanted to know more. I assume this was the author’s intention and it certainly worked!
It’s rare to find a book that sucked me in as much as this one did. There are books I love to death, more than this one, but don’t have that rest-of-the-world-disappears factor to them. I was pleasantly surprised how much I lost track of time reading this book and the ones that came after.
Don’t be like me and assume you won’t like it as much because it’s not YA. So there’s no romance. Fair enough, but there are still strong bonds forged and great character interaction, and enough to make you realize what direction the plot is going in in terms of romance. It’s not a “kid’s book” just because the protagonist is twelve. After all, demigods have to fight hard to survive before they even reach their teens, so they’re more mature than most. The characters don’t feel like “little kids”, they feel like people, who happen to be twelve or so. You can relate to their struggles whether you’re 9, 19, 29 or 69. Doesn’t matter. Great story, great characters, great narrative. Read it.