A Lightning Start to an Intriguing Narrative

Nikhil Ramachandran ’15
EE Conrtibutor

Rick Riordan really has pulled a great trick out of his hat because, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is a novel you just can’t put down. Now it is geared toward myth heads, and those who are already quite knowledgeable about the ancient Greek Gods.  However, newcomers to the genre should not at all feel out of place because Riordan does a great job of explaining each character, and providing the background behind their mythological origins…

This novel is a New York Times bestseller, as well as a recipient of the Connecticut Nutmeg awards, alongside many others. Furthermore, it has been adapted to the film screen, albeit quite mediocrely. If you’re deciding between seeing the movie and reading the novel, the book is definitely the way to go, as it truly immerses you into the first person perspective of Percy, the main character.

The author does a fantastic job of making the main character likeable. He is quite relatable, being a 12 year old kid with problems of his own such as being raised by a single mom and not knowing who his father is, and having diagnoses of dyslexia and ADHD. However, he is a resilient character, someone who you can definitely root for throughout your time reading. The first person narrative is especially helpful in that it gives us a constant of what is he thinking about and feeling. His character is quite fledged out, but Riordan is no slouch on the supporting cast either. He quickly introduces Percy’s friends, and establishes their background so the reader is informed of who they are, and what gets them ticking. Riordan is able to keep the whole journey entertaining, and it was something that I would loathe putting down when I had to. New York Times writer Polly Shulman elaborates on this, saying, “”The Lightning Thief” is perfectly paced, with electrifying moments chasing each other like heartbeats, and mysteries opening out in sequence. The action never feels gratuitous; it draws its depth from the myths at its source.” Shulman description exactly fits the vibe of the novel, creating for a delightful reading experience.

Riordan’s book focuses, as previously stated, upon Percy Jackson, a young teen who has strangely been expelled from every school he is attended. The first chapter of the book is titled, “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher”, so the reader can guess what happens there. However, after this occurs, his best friend Grover acts as if nothing has happened and Percy is mystified by Grover’s behaviour. A little later, Percy and his mother are told by Grover to immediately leave Montauk Beach, where they were currently staying. As the they are driving, a minotaur- half man, half bull- suddenly blocks the road and stops the car. Percy’s mother is killed, and in his resulting rage, Percy rips one of the minotaurs horns out of its head and kills it, promptly collapsing from exhaustion. He wakes three days later in Camp Half-Blood, a safe haven for all demigods, people who are half human and half god. Percy discovers he is the son of Poseidon, but also learns that Zeus’s lightning bolt has been stolen from him. Zeus has blamed Poseidon for the theft, and in order to prevent an all out war, Percy must help find the bolt and return by the summer solstice.

Riordan’s lightning thief ends up being someone readers would least expect, and makes the reading the whole book definitely worth the while. The characters are wonderfully fleshed out, accompanied by a gripping plot, readers can’t forget. In fact, readers will most likely be scrambling for the second book in the series after putting down the first. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” receives 5 out of 5 stars, and let me leave you with this quote from Percy to encourage you to pick up the novel, if you haven’t been already.

“ If you’re a normal kid, reading this because you think it’s fiction, great. Read on. I envy you for being able to believe that none of this ever happened.”

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