Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I want to start this review out by saying I’m super excited about the upcoming Disney+ show for this series! After the movie adaptations for books 1 and 2, I was worried that we wouldn’t get the chance to see Percy Jackson play out on screen to his fullest potential, but so far, my expectations have been met and exceeded by everything. I’m so excited about the casting of the show, too, which you can read about here.

I will admit that I’ve been a bit disappointed in some of the fanbase of their critique of Leah Jeffries just because she was cast as Annabeth (who was white in the books). I haven’t seen any of her acting work yet, but I’m sure if the author himself says she’s the best person for the role, that she is. I also think it’s outstanding to have more representation for POC in media, especially since in the books, Annabeth is the smartest, most versatile character. (Besides, based on evidence in the first book, there is a 47.5% chance that Percy is actually Latino. See this image for further details.)

5 stars – changed my life

I first read it with my mom and brother when I was seven years old, and it completely changed my life. I reread it I think twice more in elementary school, then started the second series (HOO) in seventh grade and reread it twice more in high school and college.

No read dates available.

Review: The Sea of Monsters

Unique and Playful Adaptation of Greek Mythology

Percy Jackson is twelve years old. He has dyslexia and ADHD, and he struggles to make friends because every year he has to transfer to a new school. One day, his pre-algebra teacher tries to kill him, which starts him off on the adventure of a lifetime. He begins a journey of self-discovery about himself and his true origins and learns just how real the myths are.

second cover
third (newest) cover

This book will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the book that inspired me to become a writer, and it heavily influenced my life. I even hold it above Harry Potter because of how inclusive Riordan is and how diverse his characters are.

Each of the characters is full and vibrant and unique. They represent the spectrum of human life better than any other cast in a children’s series, and the integration is done so well—it’s subtle enough to normalize POC and LGBTQ+ characters, while also addressing inequality and the unfair stigma around these people. The characters are constantly challenging stereotypes and meeting expectations.

This book and the rest of the Olympians series books are told from the first-person perspective of Percy Jackson. It’s fun and lighthearted in tone—a conversational type of writing, as Percy often uses humour as a way of expressing himself and misdirecting darker emotions. He is overall a very optimistic character, so even when times get tough and he suffers mistreatment, he is more likely to become determined to overcome the adversity than he is to mope.

Of course, not every book is without criticism. The Lightning Thief follows the typical quest-style adventure. Some people may point out that Percy is quite easily overpowered from the start, and I have to agree with them. Even before he knows the truth about himself, he defeats monsters who are renowned for their difficulty to kill. He does this many times throughout the series, even as it’s known that other campers struggle with even basic monsters.

Percy also personifies the “chosen one” trope similarly to Harry Potter, though in not so many words. He is a child of the Big Three, and is, therefore, more important than, say, a child of Hephaestus or Demeter. (This problem is balanced out later on with more characters coming in.) Percy is also always the “prophecy child” in some way, especially in this first one. I will not get into the other books too much in this review, but if you know, you know.

The writing style is casual, as I said, and arguments can be made that it is very obviously written for a younger audience. That is true, but even rereading the book in later life, I appreciate the writing style. It is great, witty writing, and while some of the characters or plotlines could hold deeper meaning, it’s a kid’s book, so that can’t be held against it.

I love this book, and none of these critiques make me love it any less. It is an absolute must-read. It says ages 8 to 12, but I’m still enjoying it in my 20s, and I know others who feel the same.

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3 responses to “Review: The Lightning Thief”

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