The Lightning Thief

My niece is a big fan of Percy Jackson so I thought I’d give the first book a whirl. After all, I do like a little other-worldly type of fantasy here and there, like Dune. Plus maybe I’ll be able to relate to my niece better. I’m imagining that our conversations will blossom into deep discussions about human nature and life in general. Or not.

I think back to the books that I was drawn to most as a kid. At first, it was the Western genre that grabbed me. This was mostly due to my Grandfather, who was my main reading influence in grade school. The dude read cowboy books exclusively, so I did too. However, as a kid I also dabbled ever so briefly in mythology. I remember loving this book called Thunder of the Gods, which was a compilation of Norse Mythology (Thor, Loki, and such). I recall liking Norse mythology much more than the Greek/Roman mythology (Zeus, Hercules), which provides the backbone for The Lightning Thief.

This makes me wonder; why don’t kids just start reading non-fiction or mysteries or thrillers set in the present day? What is it about this fantastical or historical setting that hooks young readers? And why do most of us grow out if it? I mean, by the time high school rolled around I was reading standard thrillers and now I read very few sci-fi/fantasy books or period-pieces. What gives? Peer pressure? Evolution? I didn’t grow out of heavy metal. Are musical tastes that much different from literary tastes?

Hmmm.

It could be that many grade school teachers read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to their students so kids look for the same buzz. I don’t know what grade it was, but I remember being completely enthralled by that book and couldn’t wait for teach to read more to us. But by high school I was reading Robert Ludlum and Craig Thomas. Maybe that’s it; if it happens during high school, it has much more staying power because we are so much more formative then.

I don’t know. I only have a sample size of one.

So let’s get back on track shall we? I liked The Lightning Thief and I can see how kids could get sucked into this. I know I would have. It’s an adventure story steeped in Greek/Roman mythology set in the present day. Picture Zeus and Poseidon clubbing with mortal twenty somethings and having kids all over America (kind of like NFL and NBA players do). These kids have super powers and gather with others at Half-Blood Hill (on Long Island) to learn how to use their super powers to protect the world. I’ve never read any Harry Potter, but it seems comparable.

This young fellow Percy Jackson is the main character, he’s the son of Poseidon and some down-on-her-luck Manhattanite who wants to be a writer. Percy is short for Purseus, and he faces many of the same trials and tribulations as his moniker. Fun stuff. Safe for youngsters I guess.