Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book 11: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Book One: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

At first glance, this series would appear to be yet another fish-out-of-water series trying to capitalize on Harry Potter mania. A young boy discovers he's not just a normal kid, but is in fact a half-blood, the son of a Greek god and a mortal woman. However, by setting his characters in a world where the Olympians are no myth, Rick Riordan has created a fully-fleshed out universe filled with adventure and heroic tales - this is no cookie-cutter copy of J.K. Rowling's masterpiece.

I have always had a fondness for Greek mythology. As a child, I would check "D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths" out of the library over and over again... until my mother finally bought it for me for Christmas one year. It remains one of my favorite childhood books. The stories spoke to me in a way that few other books did. So when I heard about this series, I immediately was intrigued. And I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first book.

Percy Jackson is a troubled kid who has bounced from school to school, never lasting more than a year in one place. Odd things have a way of happening to him. He's barely surviving his first year at Yancy Academy when he's attacked by one of his teachers, who reveals herself to be a Fury, one of the God Hades's minions from the Underworld. Shortly after this attack, Percy's world is turned upside-down as he is rushed to Camp Half-Blood, where it is revealed that he is the son of the Sea God, Poseidon, and that the camp is the gathering place for all the half-blood children of the Gods, or "heroes."

While he adjusts to this news, Percy finds himself at the center of a brewing battle between his father, Poseidon, and Zeus and Hades. Someone has stolen Zeus's master lightning bolt, and all signs point to Poseidon... with Percy being the suspected thief working for his father. But Percy and his friends suspect Hades is responsible, seeing as how he's been sending his minions to kill Percy. So Percy is tasked with the quest of finding the bolt and clearing his name while preventing World War III as the Gods take sides between themselves and prepare for battle.

It comes as no surprise that this series is being developed for the big screen. It's a swiftly-paced adventure, a true hero's tale as he faces monsters and fights against evil in the name of saving his friends, his family, and even all of Western civilization from total destruction. I, for one, will be lining up to see the movie when it comes out, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

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