This first installment in PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS is a fun tale of the Greek pantheon, heroes and villains, quests and monsters. It was a delight to read and I wish I had been able to read it when I was Percy’s age!
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
Narrated by Jesse Bernstein
❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1)
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult, Fiction, Adventure, Childrens, Middle Grade, Greek Mythology, Urban Fantasy, Magic
Published By: Listening Library in 2005
Original Publication: Disney Hyperion in 2005 (US Hardcover Edition)
Format: Digital Audiobook (10 hours, 2 minutes)
Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school . . . again. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he’s not even sure he believes himself.
Until the Minotaur chases him to summer camp.
Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he’s coming to realize, are very much alive in the twenty-first century. And worse, he’s angered a few of them: Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy has just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property, and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. On a daring road trip from their summer camp in New York to the gates of the Underworld in Los Angeles, Percy and his friends–one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena–will face a host of enemies determined to stop them. 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 failure and betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
This is a delightful book and I am SO GLAD I READ IT. I’ve also vaguely infuriated because, seriously, where was this when I was a kid? HOW DARE IT BE PUBLISHED WHEN I WAS A JUNIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL. … … To be honest, I would have read it then if it had come across my path, but unfortunately I didn’t hear about it until college and by then I was trying to be cool and read mature books. LOLOL. Who care about fancy mature books when there are excellent adventures to embark upon!
Loved them. All of them. I though Percy was great. His little sarcastic comments that he wants SO BAD to say, but then doesn’t made me chuckle, because honestly, who DOESN’T think that way ALL THE TIME. And he was brave, but not intentionally so, you know? He didn’t get up in the morning, eat his Wheaties and say, “Yup, I’m going to kill a monster today!” He was just so instinctive and realistic and YES YES YES.
While I can go through how all the characters were really great, I want to spotlight:
- Dionysus – So perfectly grumpy. Love the image of him in his Hawaiian shirt and trying to sneak wine.
- Chiron – Centaurs! Be still my beating heart. ❤ Such a great mentor-type character.
- Annabeth – Brains can be pretty and brave, and Annabeth is there showing not only is she Athena’s daughter through and through, but that she’s a big person and can see past feuds. ❤ ❤ ❤
- Clarice – She’s perfectly horrible and relentless and I love it.
- Charon – This guy just cracked me up.
The things that Riordan explains through mythology is perfect. Additionally, he has fused the worlds of America and Olympus together so well, it’s easy to fall into the world and think, “Okay, yes of course the entry to the heavens is the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Where else would it possibly be?”
Another minor YAY thing re: world building… these kids have to hitch rides to get places, find money, and eat food. IT’S ALMOST LIKE THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE AND NOT BOOK CHARACTERS. Thank you.
So I’m listening to this thing, thinking – hey, I’ve seen the movie, I know how this goes down. NO. NO I DID NOT. I kept waiting for the twists I expected, and instead, got new, interesting, different things and it was great. I really enjoyed the inclusion of different characters of all different backgrounds, as well as the influx of monsters.
I also liked how it wasn’t supremely predictable. Hear me out: you knew Percy was going to keep getting attacked by everything from hellhounds to the kitchen sink, but it didn’t always happen in the way expected AND sometimes the monsters (Cerberus!) behave differently than you expect, too. It’s great. They kept seeing different people and ending up places I wasn’t expecting. LOVED IT.
Writing / Narration
It’s very much a story in parts, perfect for a middle grade audience because the tasks are sort of like a to-do list. BEFORE YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT THE SIMPLICITY! This story is formatted in the same style as the old Greek myths. It’s sort of brilliant, actually. We start with a smidge of origin story, fight a starter monster, train with a mentor, and complete three major tasks to reach the sought treasure. There’s a bit of a scuffle, then the treasure is returned to the seeker and never kept by the hero. I don’t know if a lot of people notice this pattern, but I did and Mr. Riordan, +10 points.
Re: narration, it was great. Nothing special enough to make me jump up and down, but really well suited to the story and Percy’s voice.
Loved it. Abso-freaking-lutely thought it was brilliant. Riordan is well-researched in his mythology, but he’s not IN YOUR FACE about it. He drops facts here and there via Annabeth and Grover… it’s a great little brush up for mythology fans. Percy & Co. are also really likeable (imperfect) characters. The realism Riordan puts into it, like the FOOD is wonderful and frankly I have been craving cheeseburgers since I started listening to the book… thanks a lot! And chocolate chip cookies… because nectar… WHY IS THERE NOT A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DRINK!?
I will definitely be moving forward with series and even though I am WAY past his target audience, FAN!
(Psst. If you want to take a quiz and find out what Camp Half-Blood Cabin you would be in… here’s one)
((#Cabin8 #ChildrenofArtemis – This doesn’t even make sense but I DON’T CARE ARTEMIS IS MY FAVORITE YAY!))
“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.”
“Even strength must bow to wisdom sometimes”
Grover didn’t say anything for awhile. Then, when I thought he was going to give me some deep philosophical comment to make me feel better, he said, “Can I have your apple?”
I’d love to tell you I had some deep revelation on my way down, that I came to terms with my own mortality, laughed in the face of death, et cetera.
The truth? My only thought was: Aaaaggghhhhh!
“I’ve been waiting a long time for a quest, seaweed brain,” she said. “Athena is no fan of Poseidon, but if you’re going to save the world, I’m the best person to keep you from messing up.”
“The River Styx,’ Annabeth murmured. “It’s so…”
“Polluted,” Charon said. “For thousands of years, you humans have been throwing in everything as you come across – hopes, dreams, wishes that never came true. Irresponsible waste management, if you ask me.”
I haven’t read much mythology in the middle grade genre, so it’s actually fairly difficult to recommend it based on a different book! I believe fans of Tamora Pierce’s The Immortals would enjoy this book, as well as those who like The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and Jonathan Stroud’s Amulet of Samarkand also have a similar writing style, though like Eragon they’re a bit heftier. Percy’s voice reminds me a little of something Lloyd Alexander would write, like The Chronicles of Prydain and Louis Sachar’s Holes.