Monday, January 26, 2015

Percy Jackson and the lightning thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson has the reputation of being a troublemaker, mainly because trouble and misfortune seem to follow in his wake.  For years he has battled with his dyslexia and ADHD, struggling to keep up with his school work and make sense of the things he is supposed to be studying at school.  He has been to six different schools in six years, and his stay at the Yancy Academy is about to come to an end in a rather spectacular fashion thanks in no small part to events that end with his vaporising a maths teacher that everyone else can't seem to remember.  Returning home to the apartment he shares with his mother and stepfather should be a homecoming, but instead it is the start of an adrenaline fueled adventure where Percy discovers who he really is and that he has an amazing destiny.

Perseus "Percy" Jackson is not an average twelve year old, he is a demigod - the child of a mortal woman and an immortal Greek god.  For most of us that would be an amazing discovery, as is discovering your bestfriend from school is a satyr.  Camp Half-Blood seems like a haven at first, a place where Percy can learn how to find and survive against the monsters that would hunt him down and kill him in the real world.  For most demigods Camp Half-Blood is a safe place where they can be who they really are, where they don't have to hide the truth about who they are and what they can do, but for Percy arriving at Camp Half-Blood is the start of a weird waking nightmare. He soon discovers that the gods are preparing for war if the master lightning bolt is not returned to Zeus, and there are some who are convinced that Percy has either stolen the bolt or is the only one who can get it back.  Percy is about to be pushed to the limits as he races against time to prevent the gods going to war - because when the gods fight it is mankind that suffers.

I have heard good things about Rick Riordan and his Percy Jackson series, but as it was such a popular series I had chosen to read lesser known series instead.  After watching the movie adaptation of Percy Jackson and the lightning thief my curiosity was piqued and I decided that maybe it was time to try reading the book to see if it was as good as the movie - and I was really pleasantly surprised to find that the book was way better than the movie.  Right from the start Percy leaped off the page larger than life, a strong willed character with a great voice who is not afraid to admit his faults and his flaws along with his successes.  The characters built around him are just as engaging and full of depth, a fact that becomes more apparent as the novel races towards the conclusion and you realise just who the "bad guys" are and what they are after.  Thankfully the movie ending and the book ending are not the same, because that would have been a little bit of a let down - the movie ending works for the movie and the book ending works for the book!

It is apparent that Riordan has done his research about Greek mythology, his understanding of the myths provides rich source material for a richly woven world that sits in and around our own world.  Riordan has seamlessly blended together the ancient world with the modern world, creating a set of rules that make the world make "sense" (mainly because there are rules and irrefutable truths).  I had expected a well thought out world, what I had not expected was a twisted sense of humour that had me laughing in delighted surprise with some of the in-jokes - darn those Australians and their Echidna!  Some of the characters are also surprisingly human, and some are surprisingly sympathetic, something you wouldn't expect from the "bad guys".  

This was a delightful read and I look forward to reading the next book in the series to see what is next for Percy and his friends (and I will completely ignore the fact I have already watched the next movie in the series).  For a book written ten years ago it has not dated terribly, although as a decade old book it falls into the retro read category.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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