Recommendation: **** (4 stars)
Percy Jackson has not lasted long in any of the “special” schools he has attended, as trouble always finds him. This 6th grader discovers that he is a half-blood, the son of his human mother and a Greek god. There are more of his kind, and he is destined to be a hero. His friends Grover and Annabeth, a satyr (goat-man) and another half-blood, help him to successfully complete his first quest. He even gets to meet his father, Poseidon, god of the sea. Percy’s supernatural ability to manipulate water and survive beneath its surface, along with his courage and determination, make him a force to be reckoned with.
Positives: This book is well written with an attention-keeping pace of one event flowing to the next. The characters are well developed, giving the reader enough insight and background into why they are who they are. It was an enjoyable read that I looked forward to picking up again each time. Although my 5th grader had already read this and the remainder of the series, he and I went through it together as a fun way to spend time together. While the storyline deals with the intertwined human world and the world of the Greek gods and goddesses, there is an acknowledgement that “God” is a completely different matter altogether.
Negatives: Some violence (when Percy fights and prevails over the minotaur); small section with questionable content due to its prophetic nature (consulting the Oracle for Percy’s destiny).
Talking points: Aside from acknowledging that this is fiction, there are worthy character qualities that can be highlighted and encouraged. Percy’s friendships with Grover and Annabeth are good displays of loyalty, dependability, and encouraging personal growth. The three increase in their appreciation for one another, and even challenge each other to be stretched in their strengths and weaknesses. As they face a variety of foes, their consistent concern for one another is admirable. “A friend loves at all times.” (Prov. 17:17) As the half-bloods inherit supernatural powers from their god- or goddess-parents, so do we inherit traits from our biological parents. Discuss the unique ways that God has made each person according to His design and will, and how this is for His glory. But also that He is the ultimately sovereign power who watches over, protects, guides and helps us. (Psalm 139, Hebrews 4:14-16) As Christ put on flesh and walked the earth as a God-man, He understands all of our weaknesses and we can call upon our Father in the name of Christ at any time for any reason and He will hear and answer our prayers according to His will. (Psalm 37:4, Eph. 6:18) As we put on the ‘armor of God’, He equips us with everything we need for life and godliness, and to stand against the enemy (Eph. 6:10-17, 2 Pet. 1:3).
Reviewer’s further note: Our family enjoyed the audio version of another Riordan book while on vacation. This one was The Lost Hero, which is subsequent, but several books removed from, The Lightning Thief. My red flags were popping up all over, as the Oracle takes on a much larger role in The Lost Hero, to the point that she was essentially demon-possessed, in my opinion. Another being “takes over” her essence, and even her appearance is changed, along with other physical elements in the room changing. I could not get past the power and importance of this character’s part in the story. It was very much something I knew I must discuss with my 11- and 8-yr old children later on, and did. Because of this increased element, I strongly encourage parents to preview, discuss, and proceed with caution in the reading of this book series. Riordan’s writing style continued to be very entertaining with excellent character development, but in the aspect mentioned above, discernment is required. (Heb. 5:14)
Age level: 10 years and up