Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan

A sixth grade boy named Percy Jackson is on a field trip when he suddenly discovers that he has some freaky, incredible super powers. It turns out that Percy is actually a demigod: a being who is half god and half human and that he must go to Camp Half Blood, a refuge for all demigod children. Olympus has followed the center of world power from Ancient Rome to contemporary New York City. The cast of characters includes gorgons and centaurs, Gods and Goddesses, and a handful of young friends who are struggling to define their identities, understand their parents, and save the world. Percy figures out who his father is and then gets caught up in a cosmic clash of egos--someone has stolen Zeus' lightning bolt and all hell is breaking loose (literally).

This story has plenty of references to Ancient Greek mythology and is told in a spunky, adolescent voice. In an email to Rick Riordan, after enjoying this book with my class last year I wrote: "Several of my boys were begging for more 'action and adventure' books and Percy Jackson provided us all with a perfect adolescent hero. I'm already having trouble keeping track of who has my two copies of [the sequel], The Sea of Monsters. Thanks so much for the excellent books. Thanks for helping me cultivate strong, thoughtful readers."

The Lightning Thief is one of those rare, wonderful finds that has enough action, fighting, and adventure to hook video-game addicts, but also has plenty of character development, fabulous word choice, a unique and interesting narrative voice, and many surprising plot twists. The third book in the series is scheduled to be released in May 2007. I am planning to host a "Percy Party" with my class to celebrate.

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