Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Lightning Thief

Book Review

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

This is a young adult offering that has grown into a series.  I was first introduced to it through my daughter and her Literature class.  The book has been made into a movie and the teacher showed the movie at the end of the school year.  I was very curious about a movie that a Literature teacher was showing to her class.  My daughter explained that the movie had Greek gods and goddesses in it, which they had studied recently.  This peaked my interest.

For years now, I have wanted to read The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer.  Everyone I talked to agreed that I should read the Iliad first.  I prefer to read things in the proper order.  I finally worked up the nerve and I borrowed it from the library a few months ago.  And I started reading it.  A bit at a time.  A page or two at a time.

It was slow going.

And then, before I knew it, my library renewals for it were used up.  I had to send it back.

But I still wanted to read it.  Sometime.  Eventually.

I kept my eye open for a used copy at our local used book store.  It didn't take long to find a copy in good condition.  I got it and brought it home.

That was months ago and I still haven't opened it.

I'm feeling a lot of inertia to reading The Iliad on my own.  I tried to encourage myself by picking up the Cliff Notes from the library.  I want to read this book.

But clearly, I don't want to read it so much that I'm willing to set aside all of the other reading I'm also doing.  I just need to find the time and place to sit and get immersed in it.  I guess I just haven't found the right time or place yet.

I'm still interested in reading learning about the Greek gods and goddesses.  I've always been interested.  I didn't any exposure to them in my schooling.  Not middle or high school.  Not college.  During college I bought myself a book on Greek mythology to read on my own.  I was taking astronomy classes and learning the constellations.  It seemed like the right time to learn more about the mythology that went along with them.

But I found that book of mythology too dry to hold my interest.  I didn't get very far with it.

I'm still lacking in knowledge of the Greek myths, but I'm still interested.  It finally dawned on me that what I really wanted was a novel-like version of the myths, with a good plot and characters to move things along.  Kind of like a lot of historical fiction that is now available.  I just hadn't come across anything.  Yet.

Enter The Lightning Thief movie.

My daughter said the movie was good and I was curious, so we got the movie and watched it together.  Watching the movie adaptation before reading the book is very rare for me.  This time, I didn't mind a bit.  Pierce Brosnan is cast prominently in the movie.  This was a great visual to take away.  Oh, and the movie was rather good and the kids enjoyed it.

I was interested enough to want to read the book.  Even if it is a young adult book.  Maybe one of the kids would like to read it and I would know more once I read it.

The Lightning Thief

Our hero is introduced to us in New York City as a troubled sixth grader. He's got learning difficulties and has been kicked out of every school he has ever attended. And he has a step-father that is despicable.  And then strange and unexplainable things start happening.

Well, these things are explained and an action-packed adventure begins.  The plot is constructed such that our hero has to learn everything about himself and the Greek gods very quickly and act accordingly. He has learned some through school, but some he learns on the fly.

Scattered throughout the book are many references to gods or demigods that I've never heard of before.  The descriptions and explanations are very brief.  This is the one way in which I would have liked for the author to provide more depth.  It didn't bother me much that the characters in this young adult novel are rather flat, but I certainly was hoping for more mythology.  It could be argued that this may have taken away from the action, but I think it would have given the book a stronger structure.

I liked the bit of surprise at the end of the book.  I thought I had it all figured out earlier in my reading, but then I forgot.  When the end came around, I was expecting a nice tidy ending.  But I was surprised.  After reflecting a bit, I remembered that I had expected as much.  The ongoing plot distracted me from my expectation.  This is good.  Even though I had guessed the ending, I was pleasantly surprised when I got there.

This is an easy read and the prose is appropriate to a young adult book.  It was quite a bit lighter on the mythology than I would have liked, but maybe I should be looking elsewhere for that.  The plot moves along fine, but I found myself losing interest somewhat.  I'm sure my daughter would see it differently.  I think she will like it, and I will be recommending it to her.  I had assumed that I would be reading others in this series, but now I think I'll have to wait and see.  I don't particularly like reading series books back to back.  I'll have to see if the preview of the next book, which is included in my copy, can entice me.

All in all, I would recommend this to any middle schooler even slightly interested in Greek mythology.  The plot will likely be enough for them to enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good read! The movie sounds pretty good too.


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