The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief  - Rick Riordan Read this because of my inextricable attraction to Greek mythology. Much better than I expected and passed the time waiting for appointments with my GP!


Nothing like watching your relatives fight, I always say.

I have an inexplicable obsession with Greek mythology. My parents gave me a picture book with a number of retellings of the myths (without the naughty bits, of course) when I was a kid which definitely started the whole thing, but I can't explain the persistence of this, and not, for example, my love affair with Dragonball Z. However, here we are.

This modern day tale, loosely based on various aspects of Greek mythology, casts a dyslexic kid with ADHD in the role of Perseus, and sends him off on his merry adventuring way. Percy is a reasonably likeable kid, though I would absolutely have hated him had I been his contemporary at school. If there's one flaw, it's that his voice is very young in these books, and, I would say, inconsistent with his age in many parts of the book. It's made clear that Percy grows up a lot over the course of the novel, and that he has a lot to deal with at home, which he seems to have a reasonably deep understanding of even at the start of the novel – his understanding of the dynamics of his mum's relationship for example. As such, I found it somewhat baffling that he so often sounds so utterly juvenile. Fair enough at the start of the book, where Riordan's trying to showcase “wild-child” personality, but I felt like by the end of the book the character had outgrown the box that the author was trying to squash him into with the dialogue he was giving him.

I liked all the little twists on the Greek stories that occur throughout the book. Some of them are obviously a bit shoehorned in, but I found it still worked quite well. Also, I'm a sucker for stories that involve boarding school/camp type things. I don't know if it's my inner only child that somehow thinks it would be great to be around peers all the time (and also recoils from any such suggestion!) but there's something fascinating about scenarios where children and young adults break away from their families at such a young age.

This is a really good book for children who are less likely to read, I think, and it definitely feels like a boy book, which is outside my usual reading. For all it's flaws – it is rather simplistic and clunky – I think I'll be reading the next one. Also, I think it's a pretty good introduction to Greek mythology – and indeed the concept of mythology – for the very young. I give The Lightning Thief six and a half out of ten.