Things I Learned While Reading "The Lightning Thief":
-If your best friend eats tin cans, he's probably a goat
-All it takes to defeat legendary magical monsters with magical powers is a sword
-The gods play Pinochle and ride Harleys
-The gods can hear you when you talk about them, but they require video cameras to be able to see you
Percy Jackson is your regulation teenager who, one day, is attacked by a vicious demon and as a result discovers he is the son of a god. This awakening to his true nature sets in motion a dangerous chain of events, and Percy soon discovers why. The resolution of the conflict requires Percy to set out on an epic (if modern) journey to resolve a familial dispute with the gods, before war breaks out in North America.
What I enjoyed about the novel were the allusions to the mythology of the Greeks that went beyond the gods, extending to the creatures and the very myths themselves. That Percy's story includes an epic journey in a tip-of-the-hat to the old Greek epics is a fine tribute. I also appreciated that the characters were distinct, at least enough that the reader could tell them apart.
What I didn't enjoy about the novel was that the characters were also flat and the plot frequently did not make a lot of sense. (See list above. Ex: Is Grover a goat that eats cans or is he a satyr? Hephaestus set up a video camera so that the gods could see them? And their biggest worry in this trial was being embarrassed??)
I think what it boils down to for me lately is that there are two types of middle-grade fiction (that I have thus far discovered). There are controlled, measured, clever, fun, creative stories. And then there are manic, spazzy, strobe-lighty stories. Percy Jackson is of the latter sort.
I suppose these types of stories could be appealing to kids because of their action-packed nature and characters that have manic feelings and no filter, but I remember being a kid, and I always wanted something that could give me more than that. After the hype our society has placed on this series, I hate to say I was quite disappointed.
But that's just one person's review. Have a different view? I'd love your thoughts. Add a comment below!
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