The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I remember when The Lightning Thief first came out, and I enjoyed the first book immensely. I received the whole series as a Christmas present but sadly never finished the other books, so I decided that this summer was the absolute time to correct it. And what better way to shoehorn free time on an international trip than with a fun middle-grade series?
Percy Jackson is not like other twelve-year-old boys. He is dyslexic and funny and strange things always happen to him. He’s always getting kicked out of school, and he’s failing most subjects. His mom is supportive, but his horrible stepdad is abusive and gross. Percy’s substitute teacher, Mrs. Dodds, attacks him on a school field trip, and that’s when the magic really happens. He discovers that his best friend Grover is a satyr, his history teacher is really a centaur, and that he is a child of a god. He goes to Camp Half-Blood in order to work on developing his skills, and when he is finally “claimed” by Poseidon, his own life reveals new adventures and threats. With Grover and his friend Annabeth, Percy embarks on a quest to find Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt and avoid the growing presence of Kronos, the torn up but not-dead Titan who tried to destroy his children.
This is a terrific way to unpack and repurpose Greek mythology. The book is fun and clever, but it never forgets its target audience, and I think it’s a success. Percy can sometimes be childish and a bit annoying, but I have to remember that he is a kid and I am an adult reading a kids’ series. On to the next book!