This book is the first in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I really enjoyed this youth novel a lot. It's the story of 12 year old Percy Jackson who discovers he is not who he thinks he is--a normal human. He is in fact a demigod, born to a mortal mother and a Greek god father. Percy has dyslexia and ADHD which is explained by being part-god. Dyslexia is caused because Ancient Greek is his native language, so as a result he has a hard time reading standard English. And where his ADHD makes him a little distracted and unfocused in the classroom, it makes him great in battle because he is hyper-aware of what is going on.
I don't want to say too much about the storyline to give anything away. Basically, according to the book, the Greek gods still exist today, ruling over the world. Mt. Olympus simply changes locations to accommodate changes in the world/culture. They are in the Age of Western Civilization now and Mt. Olympus is currently located on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building in New York. The Underworld is currently located in West Hollywood, CA. The gods take on less classic appearances. In one of my favorite chapters ("I Settle My Tab") toward the end of the book, Riordan describes Poseidon and Zeus' current looks, all very amusing.
Through a series of events, Percy finds himself at Camp Half-Blood and is sent on an important quest to save the world from an impending World War III.
Overall, a great book, story and characters. I loved the theme of Greek Mythology. I always loved learning about mythology in school and this was a fun refresher of the various myths and who was related to each other, but with an updated twist. My only gripe about the book is how MUCH it is similar to Harry Potter. First let me say, I had no idea what this book was really about other than the description on Amazon. I was not searching to fill my Potter void or anything like that. Potter was not on my mind at all. However, as I was reading, things in the book kept striking me as very Potter-esque. So much, that it was very distracting to me and I began to keep a list of these comparisons in my head.
First, we have a boy who thinks he's normal until the pre-teen years when he discovers he is far from normal. Then, he is taken to a place that will both teach him and keep him safe from outside evils. He befriends both a boy and girl, with eerily similar personalities to Ron and especially to Hermione. The three set off on a quest in which they discover a power the gods thought to be extinguished fighting its way back to power. Then the gods ignore the fact that the power has a plan and is getting stronger (ie: Voldermort). Hmm.....I could be talking about Potter or Percy, they are so similar. Oh yes, there are also prophecies, swords, invisibility items, hearing voices in dreams, rivalry between cabins or god families (aka like the houses at Hogwarts). I know Rowling used mythology as part of a basis for her Potter world. Maybe, I didn't realize just how much was based in mythology or how much of Potter was a magical retelling of myths.
I don't mean to steer anyone away from The Lightning Thief. It really is a great book and I would recommend people read it. I was just so distracted the first half of the book by the Potterisms. The second half of the book was much easier to get into and stay focused on the Percy story. If you are a Potter fan and can forgive the similarities, I think you will really like this as a new series to read in the wake of Potter's end. There are three books published so far with the fourth due out next year. The Lightning Thief is also being produced as a movie with Chris Columbus directing (he also directed Harry Potter 1 & 2).