Fighting with the Sky

Someone Steals the Lightning

Posted on: December 2, 2009

LitethiefI work in a bookstore.  We’ve been selling a lot of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and with the first one being made into a movie (which looked pretty entertaining), so I decided to pick up the first book and see how it went.  I bought The Lightning Theif on Sunday and 50 hours later, I had finished it.  That’s with having to work and work on grad school applications (being a slow reader with a short attention span, that’s a pretty small time frame for me).  Granted, the book is written for around a 7th grade reading level, but it is a really easy and fast read.

So here’s the basic story:  Percy Jackson is a 12-year-old boy, with dislexia and ADHD, who is constantly getting kicked out of private schools.  But then he is attached by a monster and learns that he is a half-blood, or demigod.  His father is the Sea God, Posiedon.  Percy is taken to Camp Half-Blood, the only safe place on Earth for half-bloods.  But everything is now fine and dandy there.  We learn that the Olympian gods are alive and well living in America on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building.  But Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen and he suspects Percy.  Percy has to find the stolen master bolt in 10 days in order to prevent a war among the “Big Three” — Zeus, Posiedon, and Hades.  Percy goes on a cross-country journey with two of his friends looking for the bolt and discovering things about his family and the Greek Gods along the way.

As you read the book, you can see a very clear paralell to Harry Potter.  A young boy learns the true identity and powers of his family, moves to a place where he is among people of his own kind and instantly feels at home, then has to go save the world.  But the similarity in the storylines didn’t bother me that much.  I really like the Harry Potter books and there is a good amount of difference to keep it interesting.

But there is one thing that definitely stands out about the Percy Jackson books — they are very clearly marketed to middle school aged boys.  Ok, that makes sense.  The hero (quite literaly since he is the son of a god) is a middle school aged boy.  There was one review that I read, though, that made it sound like it would be surprising that girls would like the book.  But obviously, that’s not true, since I liked it, and some of the other women that I talked to at work about it liked it.

But it’s not just that the book is marketed to boys, the entire book is very boy-centric.  The only girl in the book that is discussed at any length is Annabeth, the daughter of Athena, who is one of Percy’s friends that goes on his quest with him.  Percy’s mother also plays a major role throughout the book, but not as a character, just as a thought.  And then there was the story of Thalia, the daughter of Zeus, who was turned into a pine tree after her death.  It’s fair to say, the book is pretty much all about boys.  Even among the gods, Athena is the only female god that is discussed in any depth and that’s only because she was Annabeth’s mother.  Even though there are few girls or women portrayed in any depth in the book, Annabeth is pretty awesome.  She’s the daughter of Athena and always has a plan worthy of her mother (as they say).  Even though Percy did all of the big stuff in the book, he wouldn’t have made it without Annabeth.

I did really like that there was Greek mythology intertwined with the entire story.  I used to be very into Greek mythology when I was younger, so it was really nice to see some of that information in a mainstream book like this.  And it is a great adventure book — which apparently girls can’t enjoy.

As for the movie…it looks pretty good, but it also looks like they might have changed some of the storyline (but it is really hard to tell that from a trailer).  It’s also no surprise that the movie is directed by the same person that directed the first two Harry Potter movies.  And Percy looks to be a little older than 12 in the movie.  Which I think is ok because I don’t think it’s entirely believable to have two 12-year-olds and a satyr go on a cross-country journey from Long Island to LA and back.  I mean, it is in the book, but it’s an entirely different thing when you see it.  Anyways, I’ve included the trailer at the bottom so you all can take a look.

Have any of you read the book?  What did you think?  Please keep it a discussion to the first book, The Lightning Thief, as I am reading the second one, The Sea of Monsters, right now.

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