The Lightning Thief

cover image for the Lightning ThiefRiordan, R. (2005)  Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.  New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.

Plot Summary:

Percy Jackson is one of those kids that can’t seem to do anything right, but even he thinks it’s weird when he appears to to have obliterated his math teacher.  (He didn’t mean to!)  Things get even more odd when he comes home after having been kicked out of school (that part isn’t weird) and monsters start coming after him.  There’s a reasonable explanation for all this strangeness, though.  Percy is the son of a God, and Zeus (not his father) thinks he’s stolen something from him.  So all Percy has to do is find Zeus’ most powerful weapon, return it to him, and everything will be fine.   That’s it!  Easy, right?

Critical Evaluation:

In the first of what looks to be an incredibly entertaining series, Riordan creates a world that manages to blend Greek myths and modern life.  Percy is a great teen hero, he’s neither perfect nor overly reluctant.  While he felt like a failure before his adventure, readers know him to be a champion long before his identity is revealed.  His companions, Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood, are a great match for Percy and his quest.  I look forward to reading the rest of series, and think teens will too.

 Reader’s Annotation:

Percy is the son of a God, and Zeus (not his father) thinks he’s stolen something from him.  So now Percy has to find Zeus’ most powerful weapon and return it to him. That’s it!  Easy, right?

Author Information:



Action Series

Booktalking Ideas:

This would actually be a rather difficult book to booktalk because most kids have already heard of it and will have made up their minds already.  The best thing to do would be to pull out parts they may not know and be very specific rather than painting a broad picture.

Reading Level/Target Age:

5th grade/10-16

 Possible Controversy:

There is violence here, and a lot about non-christian gods, but as with most books considered appropriate even for younger readers, there is unlikely going to be any controversy in including this title in a teen collection.

Reasons for Choosing This Title:

You would think I read this simply because it was so popular, but actually I got to listen to Riordan speak once and was impressed with how he handles the kids’ questions (turns out he’s a teacher) and was curious if his writing was as good.


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