Books · Review

PJO Reviews | The Lightning Thief: Writing, Extras, and Verdict

the lightning thief

This is the longest its ever taken me to complete a series of posts. Hopefully I get better at this. For now (finally), here’s the final part of my review of The Lightning Thief.

Writing

Like a lot of the novels I read as a kid, The Lightning Thief is written in first person, which is great because it makes it so much easier to understand the narrator, who, naturally, is Percy. His personality as a snarky, coming-of-age, rebellious teen(-ish)(he’s twelve) make his narrative fun, conversational, and easy to understand–perfect for the target audience.

Riordan’s really clever in using euphemisms to explain the higher rated stuff to his young audience. He uses words like “sire” and “moony-eyed” which, while dated, is the better option.

I don’t really see any problems with the writing itself. If I wanted to be really picky, I could point out that Percy is dyslexic ad yet he’s written out a rather eloquent story…but that’s just breaking the fourth wall.

Extras

The Movie

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? They are infinitely older, the characters were remixed (I refer to Clarissabeth), the structure of Camp Half Blood is gone, Annabeth’s knife is non-existent, the plot was MASSACRED!

And that’s was disappointed me most about the movie adaptation: the plot. While great as a stand-alone movie, it doesn’t support or even suggest a sequel. The key plot points: Thalia’s tree, Annabeth’s knife, Luke’s quest, the pact between the Big Three, the Great Prophecy…for goodness sake, Kronos isn’t even mentioned!

I can’t hate the movie in its entirety, since its what brought me to the books, but there are huge flaws that I just can’t stand, and the poorly cropped plot is a major one.

I would have forgiven Hollywood, but then a sequel came out (more to follow).

Is Percy Jackson Harry Potter?

I’ve mentioned this earlier, but I think it needs another, thorough discussion. There’s a lot in the premise of Percy Jackson and the Olympians that feels like Harry Potter. And yes, it’s really easy to see: a hidden world, the hero find his place of belonging, a fantastical journey, a terrible enemy, a great fate.

But here’s the thing: demigods aren’t wizards, and wizards aren’t demigods.

What’s great about both situations is that they both provide escape to a fantasy world, hidden away in the real world. It’s why the two series are so popular.

But what’s great about these fantastical worlds is that anything can happen. That’s where Percy and Harry deviate, in vastly different directions. Percy faces the trials of being a hero with a less than ideal family; Harry is forced to save the world, trying to find his home. Seemingly identical at a far away distance, but the thing is, Greek mythology opens a barrel of insanity that wizardry has in equal magnitude, but of a different source.

Final Verdict

The Lightning Thief is standard premise to what promises to be a great series. It does what any first instalment of a series should do: setting up the rest of the series. Granted, it’s a little cliche, but that’s because Percy Jackson follows a familiar trope, as found in Harry Potter. It’s a great introduction to Greek mythology for kids. Could I have skipped it all together? Probably. Would I want to? How can I have a story without a beginning?

“All we can do, child, is follow our destiny.”
― Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

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