Friday, December 2, 2016

Review - The Lightning Thief

Original Title: The Lightning Thief
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: June the 28th, 2005

Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books

I said it before and I say it again: “never judge a book by its movie”. I grabbed it after a peaceful Sunday afternoon watching the movie on tv, after mere curiosity, and that very same day I got the book and started reading it.

My first thought was that I wish I had read this book back when it was published. I was thirteen years-old back then, and I already used to lock myself up with a collection of encyclopedias to read about gods, goddesses and heroes. I was a Greek mythology freak pre-teen. But also, I’d wish I had met Percy back in a time in which he and I had so much in common. Upon reading about him, I could relate to many of those things he faces, as I faced them as a kid back in school, and that sadly are a reality many adults choose to ignore, especially when it comes to bullying (yeah, I know that firsthand, but back when I was a kid, it didn’t had that name -it was only something all kids do, so I was never defended; in fact, my bullies were defended when I reacted).

It was a great read; as I passed the pages I was able to remember lots of things I had read about mythology, and let’s face it, Rick Riordan did a great work adapting the gods and deities to the modern world, and definitely, his image of the Fire is quite accurate. Humanity, basically, hasn’t changed, and those same vices the Greek pictured in paradisiac islands, brought by spells casted by nymphs and goddesses, tempting travelers and heroes alike, are perfectly clear in the most powerful nation in the world. The way he told how those myths we can read are a reality in this story, is brilliant, especially after I, as I read myth after myth, discovered that much of what happens in them isn’t always suited for under-aged readers.

There’s however, a few things I have to mention. For starters, Percy’s mom. She knew the whole time she had a son with the Sea God, and she takes it normally, but I want -need- details! How they met, how she knew who he really was, how she believed him and… I mean, how do you take in the fact you ended up pregnant by an old Greek deity? Even when she’s a really good character, Sally Jackson never really gives any explanation of how things happened, except for a few lines that aren’t enough! And on the other hand, we have Poseidon as Percy’s dad. It bothered me a little that nobody seemed to connect the dots. I mean, come on! Percy finally accepts the fact that his father is a god, but he doesn’t know which of them. Although, yes, he has uncontrollable reactions related to water every time he’s bullied or mistreated, like when he made the bathroom pipes explode, or healed his own wounds. It was right there! There’s not much to think if you have twelve cabins for the kids of those twelve main gods to live in Camp Half-Blood, and only one of them belongs to a god related to water. Of course, there’s other Greek sea gods, but they are minor and wouldn’t have a cabin in the camp (like Proteus -a son of Poseidon-, or Nereus), so I think it was quite clear the whole time, even before Poseidon himself claimed him as his son.

A thing that also bothered me a little is that everything is very American. Very. And before anyone say anything, I’m not from the U.S.A., but from Argentina. I bring it up only because lately I’ve been thinking, it’s unbelievable how we naturalized all those things we hear about in movies, series and books, about the Northern country; it’s geography, celebrations, summer camps… Even the seasons! This book takes place in the U.S.A, and it has lots and lots of reference to things only those born there will fully understand. But it’s not, however, something I fully criticize. It’s ok.

As for those comparing Percy Jackson with Harry Potter, yes, I saw lots of things in common, but this story is great in its own way, no comparison needed. Give it a try; after all, each reader has a different, unique point of view, and Percy and his friends are heroes worth reading, so definitely, I’m going to read the rest of the saga!


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