Myths, Legends And Modern Life

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.

The Olympian series was one that passed me by in my youth, mainly because at the time it first published I was head deep in my Classical Civilisation GCSE studying Greek plays and culture and my stuffy Classics teacher would have ripped me to shreds for going anywhere near them! But upon finding a copy in the local charity shop I decided to put past enforced prejudices aside and give Rick Riordan’s series a whirl. And Perseus Jackson, you really surprised me!

Given the first line of the book, I hope no one will think I’m spoiling the surprise when I say that Percy Jackson is an ordinary boy who suddenly finds himself to be extraordinary. When he vaporises his algebra teacher, the realisation that all is not as it seems comes pretty quickly and Percy’s carefully protected bubble is suddenly popped. Finding himself at a summer camp for half-blood children, he begins to understand the terms and conditions attached to being the child of a Greek deity!

I was quite surprised with how quickly I came to love the mixed-up world of Percy Jackson. Riordan weaves the mythic and the modern together effortlessly and despite having to sit through some basic explanations of certain legendary characters (must remember that I am NOT the 10-12 year-old target audience for this book!), I thought, overall, the combination was executed with genius! The depiction of the gods, goddesses and legends in a revised, modern world are particularly brilliant, with a Hells Angel-style biker Ares and a garden-centre owning Medusa.

The chapters are episodic and the story is fast-paced which makes you want to read on and on until suddenly the end is upon you. The minor downside to this format is that problems, fights, arguments, etc. are all resolved quite quickly as Riordan focuses on the journey to that point rather than expanding on the destination. I really enjoyed Percy as a character so spending time in his company, alongside satyr Grover and fellow half-blood Annabeth, was a joy but if a reader doesn’t connect with Percy, I cant imagine they’ll stick with the book for very long.

I am fighting with myself not to immediately invest in the rest of the series and read them back to back – university reading actually is more important (sadly enough!) but I absolutely will continue with Percy Jackson and the Olympians. More time in a world of temperamental gods, quests and half-bloods out to prove themselves… yes please!

4 star

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