On a total whim a few weeks back, I picked up a copy of The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. I think I may have seen copies of these books in the past but overlooked them. But since I had heard that it had been made into a movie, I thought I'd check it out. Yes, I know, that's a lousy reason to read a book. Sue me.
Anyway, the story revolves around the aforementioned Percy Jackson. He's had a pretty rotten childhood. His mother has married an absolute loser and Percy has been bouncing around from school to school. He suffers from ADHD and dyslexia. Things are not going well for him at all.
And then, one day, his math teacher tries to kill him on a field trip. It's only when his Latin teacher tosses him a pen that turns into a sword that Percy is able to defeat her. Only he seems to be the only one who remembers that it happened.
Soon Percy finds himself embroiled in a fight for survival because of who his true father is, namely one of the Olympian gods (I won't say which one, but if you've seen the TV commercials, it's not much of a spoiler). Someone has stolen Zeus's master lightning bolt and everyone seems to think it's Percy.
Now Percy has to find what was stolen and clear his name before a cosmic battle unlike anything anyone has ever seen overtakes the world. And he only has about ten days to do it.
I'm not sure I really liked this book. In terms of craft, much of it is kind of cliched and overly predictable. For example, Ares as a biker. I suppose that's clever if a bit spot on. It might have been more interesting make him, oh, maybe a corporate shark. Maybe the problem is I'm three times the age of the target market. I don't know. But I had most of the plot figured out about halfway through, which made it annoying since it seemed like none of the characters had any of it figured out until the very end.
Don't get me wrong, there's lots of adventure and action, plus some laugh out loud moments. I suspect that teens and tweens would probably get a kick out of Percy's smart-talking ways and attitude.
What bothered me most was the spiritual aspect of the book, which might seem a little weird since in general, I didn't have a problem with the Harry Potter books. But we see kids offering burnt offerings and praying to the Greek gods, plus a few somewhat overt swipes at Christianity (or at least, I thought they were swipes; maybe I'm overreacting). All told, it left me a bit unsettled.
Apparently there are four more books in this series and, as of right now, I'm thinking I'll pass. If I do indulge my curiosity, it'd be via the library.