October 26, 2012

31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books: The Lightning Thief

You may remember that last spring I blazed through the Percy Jackson series. They're a quintet of middle grade/young adult fantasy novels that feature Greek mythology in the modern day. See the Greek gods are still alive and kicking, but since the seat of Western civilization has moved to the United States, Mt. Olympus now hovers above New York City, and Hades lurks below Los Angeles.

In the first book, The Lightning Thief, Perseus Jackson (who much prefers to be called Percy), a kid who's been kicked out of countless schools, lives with his mom and stinky stepdad, till one summer he gets a chance to go to camp. Except it's no ordinary camp - it's a camp for half-bloods. Because, unbelievably enough, Percy is actually a demigod,  the son of the sea god Poseidon. And Zeus is mad at Percy, because he thinks he stole his lightning bolt. And Percy's mom has been frozen and he's the only one who can rescue her.

Thus Percy, a smarty-pants girl named Annabeth (a daughter of Athena) and a timid satyr named Grover have to set off on a quest to find the lightning bolt, or else. Various demigods, gods, and monsters assist and hinder them along the way. 

The Lightning Thief is a lot of fun, and ideal for a late elementary or middle school reader. I remember doing a unit on Greek mythology in 6th grade, and this would tie in perfectly. The later books in the series do get a bit more gruesome and teenagery... but I think they'd still be ok.

I absolutely love how much history and Greek mythology you absorb as you read these books. And I like that Percy is a very approachable kid - smart, but dyslexic, and a bit of a social outcast, which makes him very believable. I feel like a street smart kid who was suddenly thrown into battle with a minotaur might act exactly the way Percy did. I really like Percy's voice, and I like the friendship that develops between Percy, Grover, and Annabeth as the books progress.

Have you read The Lightning Thief?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Recommended age: 9 and up

This post is day 26 of my 31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.