Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

While I am not always an avid reader of young adult literature, I will dig into it from time-to-time. After a deep dissection of Greek culture, life, and mythology in class as we covered The Odyssey, some of my students suggest Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and provided the text (as well as the subsequent books in the series). Thus I gave the text a quick read, and yes I know I am late to the game with this book and this series, but if you enjoy mythology, are interested in seeing it with a modern twist, and want a quick read, grab this book.

Written from the first person perspective of twelve year old Percy Jackson, the reader is taken on an adventure as Jackson discovers that all of his disabilities are actually gifts from the gods, abilities in disguise (very A&E movie there, dyslexia becomes the ability to know ancient Greek for example). Furthermore, he has these gifts because he is a descendent of on the gods, a son of one of them, and he is in harm’s way as monsters and demons lurk around every corner. These monsters are a bit convenient at times, stumbling into Medusa's garden after being attacked by furies on a bus or ending up in a Lotus Blossom based hotel in Vegas just to cut the quest's time window short, but the conceit works in such a way that the reader can buy the coincidences. They work in that they are fun, they flow, and they are not jarring. Thus, Percy finds himself centered on finding Zeus’ master bolt, the lightning bolt of bolts, in order to prevent an all-out war between the immortals. As he journeys on, the story arc that attracted Hollywood rises to the top as he discovers the extent of his powers and wards of legions of angry monsters with a sword that grows from a pen in his pocket.

Of course Percy saves the day, for now, and the classic coming of age themes churn beneath the surface, but what else would one expect. Either way, the text is not and was not meant to be singular, for there are prophecies from the relocated oracle, potential dangers, and the possible undoing of western civilization as we know it.

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