Book Review: Percy Jackson Lightning Thief

As the latest movie in the series makes waves (of nausea as it sits at %38 on Rotten Tomatoes), I remembered watching the first movie (which did not fare much better in cinemas at %49) on DVD a long time ago. I was offended by how terrible it was.

The fact that there are GODS in modern day isn’t explained or touched upon and the possible ramifications it has on Judeo-Christianity. They belittle ADHD and dyslexia for a cheap joke. At one point the kids meet both the Gorgon Medusa and the Hydra and don’t know how to defeat either. It was insulting and stupid and not even interesting. The daughter of Athena doesn’t come up with any clever plans or anything. The characters are flat and the satyr is obnoxious.

The only part of the movie I even vaguely remember with any positive feeling is the part with Persephone, and that’s not even in the book.

And yet the book is so astoundingly better.

Let me explain why I even bothered trying to read it, after that opening paragraph.  There’s an artist on DeviantArt that goes by viria13. She’s the type of artist I’d love to become; her lines flow beautifully and with seeming ease she create vivid backgrounds, expressions and scenes. She really captures characters. I started following her a couple of years ago, and she kept on drawing these amazing Harry Potter drawings. At the time I had yet to read the books because I had seen the first two movies and was completely confused and disinterested. After a year of following her and seeing the beauty she perceived from the story, I realized I must be missing out on something by not giving the books a chance. I read all seven books in about a week or two over the summer, and joined the fandom.

Not my work! viria13's of DeviantArt

viria13’s amazing art. The lines are light and the mood is just… there. Look at those beautifully tapered fingers! Aaah…

So when I looked through her galleries and saw her beautiful and touching Percy Jackson and the Olympians art, I realized it must be a similar situation. So just last week I picked up the first book on my trusty Sony eReader (which I love and may devote a short blog post to eventually <3 ) and read it through.

The first chapter, hell ,the first title of the first chapter was so endearing, I immediately knew I was dealing with something else entirely than the pile of rotten seaweeds that was the movie. The title is “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher”. I mean, that grabs you right away!

The charm of the books comes from the first person narrative and the spunk and intelligence of the main characters, both are completely lost in Hollywood’s attempt to make special effects and change the story. The boy, Percy, is 12, and while he talks in his mind probably more like a 15 year-old would, he’s incredibly likable right off the bat. He’s intelligent, self-deprecatingly modest, funny and thank god doesn’t often develop cases of “I need to be a moron right now to continue the plot”. On the rare occasions he does, he berates himself, and then you forgive him. He has an attitude, doesn’t always make the “right” choices, but you cheer for him even when he chooses to give a god the figurative middle finger. I’ve read a lot of books considered “better” that don’t manage to do that.

The supporting cast is also likable. The satyr is still a bit irritatingly incompetent, but definitely not to the extent of the movie, and while you’re supposed to feel for the poor half-goat, I never really did. Could have been ’cause of the movie. He’s a loyal friend (*cough*unlikeRonWeasly*cough*) and does pull his weight.

The women in the book, Percy’s mother and his demigod friend Annabeth (aforementioned daughter of Athena) are strong women. That’s a delight to see. There’s no saving damsels in distress, and even though saving the mom is the main plot point, I think you’d be surprised by how it ends up. I thought it was mature and intelligent, but I won’t spoil it for you, in case you do want to read the book.

There was adventure, teen brashness, intelligent resolutions for problems and swordfights with gods. What more do you need in young adult fiction? I recommend this book if you want a fun read that doesn’t leave your soul on the floor, crying for mama. It made me chuckle out loud at some points, and that’s not easy to do. Charming characters, great adventures and nothing, and I mean NOTHING, like that polluted cesspool of a movie.

If you’ve read it (or seen the movie), let me know what you thought! Do you agree with my opinions? If this review made you curious about the book, I’d love to hear about it. 😀

Anat.

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2 Responses to Book Review: Percy Jackson Lightning Thief

  1. Nutella says:

    I agree, I actually read the books before I saw the films and was VERY disappointed. While I love Grover in the books he got on my nerves a little in the film and don’t even get me started on Annabeth. Probably my main problem was the way they just took the book title and thought ‘nah, lets just ignore the character development and plot.’ And whilst Logan Lerman’s face was very nice he just didn’t have the same energy or likability that Percy in the books does. Sorry went on a mini rant here. All in all I loved the series and can’t wait for House of Hades! I also love Viria13 (especially her marauder work).

    • Anat says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt that way about the movies! Yeah, it felt they just wanted an excuse to throw in some Greek mythology monsters, completely disregarding what made the book endearing. Oh, viria13’s marauder works are so much fun. She really infuses each drawing with so much life! I am trying to study her works and learn from her to hopefully make my art better. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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