The Lightning Thief is a rip-roaring hero quest, with one sassy pants Percy Jackson our reluctant hero of the day. The Lightning Thief is Book One of The Olympians series (there are 5 books) and is crammed full of monsters, Greek gods (they’re still around, hanging out in New York) and half-blood heroes, the oft-neglected sons and daughters sired by Gods enamored with humans. Rick Riordan has successfully brought ancient Greek mythology to life in this fast-paced book, with a sly humor and a certain grittiness that befits an author who has won several awards in the adult mystery genre. Greek mythology is rife with out-of-wedlock children and drunkenness (sometimes both), which earns this book its PG-13 rating. However, Riordan pulls these ancient myths into the modern era and renders them more hilarious than scandalous. The chapter titles alone are worth the read . . .
Chapter 1: I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-algebra Teacher
Chapter 2: Three Old Ladies Knit the Socks of Death
and my personal favorite, Chapter 12: We Get Advice from a Poodle
The story is almost as outrageous as the chapter titles, and in fact, you will need your disbelief suspenders to make it through the book. But the kids don’t seem to have a problem believing that the entrance to Mt. Olympus is at the top of the Empire State Building, or that the passage to the Underworld can be found at the DOA Recording Studios in Los Angeles. Then again, those don’t sound entirely implausible.
RL: 4.7 CSM: 9+ Rating: PG-13 Content: Adult/God drunkenness, alcohol referred to as “happy juice”, half-blood children born out of wedlock
The reading level of The Lightning Thief is only 4.7, which does not make it a challenging read. But this book is the gateway drug to harder core mythology studies, and don’t be surprised if your budding hero wants to find out more about the real stories behind the story. Higher reading level books about ancient Greek mythology abound, all the way up to the original The Iliad and The Odyssey, clocking in at an impressive 11.3 reading level – yeow!
With the movie coming out February 12th, expect to see more Olympic madness through promotions, and yes, lots more books. There’s already a fantastic website cranked up with Percy Jackson mania, including a list of similar books kids will enjoy (many of which are on Ink Spells recommended reads list, natch), a teacher’s guide, and fun stuff for kids, like 10 signs you may be a half-blood. So get the kids hopping on these books now. I always find it’s easier to have them read the books first, then see the movie.
Although not a challenging read, The Lightning Thief is a highly entertaining book for all readers 8+, with a caution for content listed above, and will provide an incentive to dive into more challenging material.