Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

There are times when reading feels like an addiction and a book like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is a great way to feed that addiction. I seemed to have missed the movie but I was sure we had this book in our school library so when it was returned last week I quickly grabbed it ready to read.

I sat down thinking, you’ve heard me say this before, I would just read a few pages or perhaps the first chapter to see what this book was like. I didn’t lift my head for 72 pages! In fact I had to speak sternly and order myself to turn off the light – after all it was a school night.

Now for the addiction part - it has been a rather busy week and I just didn’t have a few continuous hours to sit and read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief so I had to snatch time when ever I could. This included reading chapters over breakfast and wishing I could just stay home for the day and keep reading.

Finally last night I finished Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and I am now desperate for the sequels. Percy, or Perseus, is a half-blood but not like the ones in Harry Potter, these half bloods are the offspring of the Gods. Gods like Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Ares, Apollo, Hermes, Dionysus, Aphrodite, Demeter, Hephaestus, Dionysus and Hades.

Percy doesn’t know he is a half-blood but the signs are obvious to those who can recognize them.

As Annabeth explains : “You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t one of us … I bet you moved around from school to school. I bet you were kicked out of a lot of them…. Diagnosed with dyslexia. Probably ADHD… that’s because your mind is hardwired for ancient Greek. And the ADHD – you’re impulsive, can’t sit still in the classroom. That’s your battlefield reflexes.”

Someone has stolen a lightning bolt from Zeus and the gods are preparing for War. On earth this will be World War III. Percy our hero is really Perseus, the son of Poseidon and he must go on a quest to find the lightning bolt. Zeus blames Poseidon for the theft but others think it is the work of Hades who wants to increase his power. Before embarking on the quest Percy has an audience with the Oracle… you will go West, and face the god who has turned, you shall find what was stolen and see it safely returned, you shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend, and you shall fail to save what matters most, in the end. This is all very heavy stuff.

Percy, Annabeth and Grover (a Satyr and Percy’s best friend) do indeed need to travel to the West. I almost reached for an atlas to plot their journey across American from New York to Los Angeles and back again.

Very early in the story Percy fights a Minotaur and later he meets the Furies, Medusa, and three women cutting threads – the Fates.

I first fell in love with these figures of mythology after reading The god Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen.
Reading Percy Jackson and the Lightning thief will give readers a terrific introduction to all these wonderful, horrifying, magical and powerful figures. If you have finished with Beast Quest and are ready to try a much longer novel (374 pages) get your hands on Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief I highly recommend it.

Check out the web site for the series it is amazing. You can even listen to parts of the books. The author also has a great site. For teachers here are some discussion questions - you could build a whole term of work around this novel by making an in depth study of Greek mythology. The Scholastic edition, Puffin edition and the one on the author web site all have such different covers - ours is in this blog.

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