The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Book 1
Author: Rick Riordan
My Recommended Age: 6th grade and up with parental guidance suggested.
Guided Reading Level: S
Lexile: 740L
Fiction

Percy Jackson is not a bad kid, just one who seems to get into trouble. Unfortunately, his problems are only getting worse, as one of his teachers has turned into a mythological monster and tried to attack him. This series of events leads Percy to camp Half-Blood. A magical summer camp for the illegitimate children of promiscuous Greek Gods. Here Percy is sent on a quest to retrieve Zeus' stolen lightning bolt and restore order to the universe at whole.

Let me begin by saying, that I try really hard to either read the books that my kids want to read, before they read them or I get a solid synopsis and recommendation from someone I trust. That much being said...Several years ago, we were at the book fair and my son's teacher recommended this series. I got the book for him based on her word and allowed him to read it. He read it and loved it and read the next two and LOVED them!

Fast forward several years and I finally finished the first and I can't believe I let him read it when he was so young. (He was 10 years old at the time and in 4th grade.) Because the book does not go into details on being a "half-blood", I can only hope that the small details regarding promiscuity and fornication went over his head.  This is why I feel that the best time to start the Last Olympians would be when the kids start studying it in school.  It is a great tie-in to Greek Mythology. 

Also, the book is full of dangerous and deadly situations. They were not overly tense, by any means, but it seemed that at every turn Percy is in a near death situation.
Finally, one of the main characters often calls to the Gods in the "OMG" way and that bothered me a little. These books are not bad by any means, I just feel that parental guidance is suggested, depending on the age.

On a personal note, this book was not my favorite. I have read the second, The Sea of Monsters, and will continue on in the series, but only because I want to keep tabs on my kids. I feel that Riordan's writing is not convincing, and all character development has been replaced with near death experiences (which Percy manages to easily escape).  Plus, I see too many Harry Potter similarities in the story.  I couldn't get over the idea that Riordan, whether intentional or not, sounds a bit like a Rowling wannabe. (Percy's two best friends are a know-it-all girl and a half-wit boy...seriously)

Overall, my son loved this book and the series. He has read them multiple times and so have all of his friends. He is anxiously awaiting the last, and will love that one too, I am sure.

Happy Reading
~Liz


Becky says:
 My recommended age: 10 for advanced readers, otherwise age 11

I really enjoyed this series!  The originality was refreshing and fun. The story of the Olympians was totally unlike anything I ever thought I would enjoy. In fact, this isn't a series I would've picked up if a couple of my kids hadn't encouraged me to. Like Liz the Harry Potter feel drove me crazy. Three "heroes" set on a quest and find a big bad guy without a body.... hmm... where've I read that before.

Enjoy!
Becky

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