Things aren't going too well for Percy Jackson - even though he tries, he can't seem to stay in any one particular school for more than a year - and often less time than that. Severe dyslexia and ADD have made his studies extremely challenging, not to mention frustrating. But his new school hasn't been so bad - he really likes his classics teacher, even though his math teacher seems to have it in for him, no matter what he does - and his buddy Grover is fun to hang out with, even though his geekiness does tend to attract bullies.
Everything changes, though, on the field trip to the museum, which isn't a huge surprise. Other school field trips have ended in disaster, and Percy is determined that this time it will be different. No matter how much he is teased, he is determined not to react, not to get in trouble. Really, it isn't his fault that one of the bullies ends up in the fountain. And it certainly isn't his fault that his mean old math teacher turns into a horrific monster. But even so, Percy is asked to leave his school - again. This time, though, he suspects that something very strange is going on - especially after overhearing an intriguing discussion between Grover and his classics teacher, a conversation about Percy.
Back at home, things are disturbingly the same. His horrible stepfather is playing poker with his buddies, bossing his mom around and taking Percy' s cash. Things look up when his mom says they're going to the beach for a week, just the two of them. But what starts out as a nice vacation turns into a nightmare as they are suddenly attacked and pursued by horrific creatures. Percy learns that his father wasn't exactly human - he is a being from Greek mythology. And for some reason his father's enemies seem to think that he - Percy Jackson - has stolen a lightning bolt from Zeus. If Percy can't find it and return it, an all-out war between the gods will result. Percy is only twelve, and it seems like a tall order. But he has Grover and a new friend, Annabeth, to give him a hand. But can they possibly be a match for the most powerful gods of Olympus?
Listening to this book was a real treat - I enjoyed Jesse Bernstein's boyish voice, which worked well with the first-person narrator. With all the hype about the latest Percy Jackson novel coming out, I decided it was time to start this series - I was particularly interested because boy readers, in particular, are so incredibly passionate about the series. I love Greek mythology, and those who are well versed in myths will have an edge in figuring out the mysteries and secrets of the novel. However, I can see it inspiring readers who are unfamiliar with the myths and characters to learn more about them after finishing the book.
My only issue with the book was the character of Annabeth, whose mother is Athena. While Percy is brave and strong and embodies many of the characteristics of his immortal father, I found myself wishing that Annabeth were a bit more like her mother, the goddess of wisdom, who is also a warrior goddess. Annabeth, Percy and Grover keep falling into trap after trap, and I kept expecting Annabeth to see through the deception, but she rarely did. While this is clearly a book targeted at boys, it would still be nice to have a strong, smart female character. Don't get me wrong - Annabeth certainly knows her own mind, but her status as a demigod seems much less substantial than Percy's, which I found a bit annoying. That quibble aside, though, I found the book to be entertaining, exciting and original, and I look forward to reading about the further adventures of Percy Jackson.
Books in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series:
1. The Lightning Thief
2. The Sea of Monsters
3. The Titan's Curse
4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
The Lightning Thief (#1 in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) by Rick Riordan; narrated by Jesse Bernstein (Random House, 2006)
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