Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review; The Lightning Thief

There are three reasons why I have read and reviewed this book--one, I am curious to know what the fuss is about it--two, I wanted to blog about it and tell you guys and gals what I thought, and third, because I saw the movie and was interested. :)

"After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There's little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus." (Taken from

This book has been quite a sensation, I know, in children's fantasy. A major movie was made about it, and what is even more remarkable (to me) is that a close friend of mine actually read all of these books. You don't know my friend, but if you did, you would know that he usually doesn't read much--and fantasy books of this size are almost unheard of.

When I read this book, I didn't know what to expect. I liked the movie well enough, but what drew in the readers so much?

The concept, at least, is interesting. Greek gods in New York? And I thought it was interesting and mildly funny that the entrance to Hades was in Hollywood. ;)

The plot? Well, it was all right. I liked it well enough to read it and order the next books from the library--but I must say that the movie rather ruined it for me. I already knew what was going to happen, so maybe that is what took away my enjoyment of the plot.

The characters, Percy at least, were developed well enough for a book like this.

But theologically, what do I think of this book? Well, if you can get past the whole idea of Greek gods being real and coming down and having demigod sons and daughters (which I wasn't really impressed with, though it was mythology) in modern day, then you could read this book. However, the author didn't say there was no 'God' in this book, meaning, all there is, is just Greek 'gods'. For instance, consider these sentences from the book;

"'Wait,' I told Chiron. 'You're telling me there's such a thing as God.'

"'Well, now," Chiron said. "God--capital G, God. That's a different matter altogether. We shan't deal with the metaphysical.'

"'Metaphysical? But you were just talking about--'

"Ah, gods, plural, as in, great beings that control the forces of nature and human endeavors: the immortal gods of Olympus. That's a smaller matter.'"

So you can decide for yourself about the theology of this book.

But otherwise, (meaning, besides the fact that Poseidon's son is Percy, yet he, Poseidon, was not married, Greek mythology, etc.), there is only one other thing I don't agree with; Percy's mother turns her husband to stone with Medusa's head. :P

But should you read this book or not? It depends on the person. You may or may not want to read about Greek gods and one of their mortal offspring--that is your choice. But keep in mind this; when I placed a hold on the Lightning Thief at the library, I was number 120 in line. There were 119 people in front of me, waiting for the book. Even now, I am number 49 for the second book. It may or may not be worthwhile to wait for the book--most likely, for many of you with better books to read, the latter.

One more point before I let you go; what frustrates me is that this book is so popular. Not that I resent it's popularity, but I have read many better books than this, with much better characters, plot, etc. (Christian fantasy books!) and they are being left on the shelves by many people. If you have a choice between this and a Wayne Thomas Batson book, for example, there is no choice. WTB would win hands down. Even now I would much have rather spent my time reading All My Holy Mountain (by L. B. Graham) than this book--unfortunately, it isn't in yet. What I mean to say is this; why should these books be selling so well and are being so popular when the overall writing, plot, and character doesn't compare to the average Christian fantasy novel? But I know the answer already--we live in a secular society. :P

But overall? My rating is probably somewhere around 7 out of 10--depending on the person.


Squeaks said...

Hmm...interesting. I can't say I would be wanting to read the book (I personally dislike mythology that deals with gods and stuff). When I read C.S Lewis's Space Trilogy, I cringed at the mythology. For some reason it just bugs me...all that stuff about gods and everything. The odd thing, is that I don't mind the odd magic in Donita K. Paul's books or others similar to hers. Ah's gotta be my Biblical background warring in me XD Although it is good to know about these things, I personally would prefer to read Christian-based books and study the Bible lol :P

(P.S. no offense XD )


Jake said...

I don't really care for mythology either. :) Tolkien's mythology was interesting, however.

But, as I said in my post, I much prefer Christian fantasy novels to these kinds of novels. :)

Elven Princess said...

I really like greek mythology. I know its not real but I like it as a fiction. I was about to watch this movie but I didn't get to.

Star-Dreamer said...

I like Greek Mythology too... but perhaps it's from a different outlook? For one thing I like it for it's stories... come one people! Fantasy to the max! But being a Christian I know it's not real, and in that retrospect, I enjoy reading Greek Mythology to find out where the Greek Culture went so wrong. In fact, I think it would be very interesting if someone dedicated thier life to searching out the myths and ledgends of different culter and sniffing out the "curves" so to speak. Because, in case anyone hasn't noticed, it seems that different cultures have similar stories, and if they match up in enough places you would think there was some truth thrown in there SOMEWHERE. The problem is, finding out where.

Personally, I read all of these books beginning to end one right after the other. I enjoyed them thoroughly, but I don't know that these are books to be tried Theologically... I think they are books written more "just for fun" than to get a message across.

Also, if you saw the movie then, yeah, it's really no surprise that it spoiled it for you. The movie was ok, but it wasn't the greatest. Haveing read the books first, I much perfer the written story over the acted version. But don't let that stop you from reading the books; there was a lot left out of the movie, and ending of the film was deffinitely found wanting. :D

Star-Dreamer said...

Oh, and btw... Tolkien's Mythology (if you look it up) was actually based on Norse Mythology. Which is very interesting but, unfortunatly, rather gruesome.

Rings of Power? Done before... as well as a bunch of other things.

The hobbits are his though. :)

Just a randome thought there.

Anonymous said...

So I'm totally new and am reading your review really late. Like four years late, haha. But I think I'll address why this series is so popular and wins hands down for me over Wayne Thomas Batson.

Percy. I instantly connected with Percy and instantly cared for him. I found the idea of Greek gods existing fascinating. But I am secure in my faith and I have studied the issues with the Greek myths and worldview before. (I'm a Christian by the way).

For me, Lightning Thief was fresh. It was real. It was funny. I laughed. I learned. And I was happy to have read it.

And concerning your Christian fantasy point, I'll make one final comment. As Christians, our works should appeal to everybody. And I think that means we should remove the "Christian" label. I dislike Christian fantasy for the most part. I find it cliche. Unoriginal and preachy. It troubles me that most Christian fantasy stories all have the SAME STORY! There's not much originality. (Davis and Donita K. Paul escape this criticism and I'll give Patrick Carr a pass too.) What we need are less Christian books and more Christian authors.

So there's my spiel. Thanks for writing the review. Made me think. Sorry for such a long reply.