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Staff PIcks – The Lightning Thief

When I see an interesting trailer for a new movie that’s based on a book, I always prefer to read the book before I see the movie. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

When it was announced that the first installment of Rick Riordan’s popular YA series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians, The Lightning Thief would be made into a movie, I immediately bumped the title up my reading queue. I’m so glad I did! (I think my husband is too: he started the book by reading over my shoulder, which he knows I *love*; now he just steals it from my side of the bed to continue after I’ve fallen asleep. I know this because the last few mornings I’ve needed to retrieve it from his side.)

Based on the idea that the figures of Greek myths are real and still move among us today, The Lightning Thief introduces us to the children of Olympians, including Percy, son of … well, it’s kind of a secret until he figures it out; and Annabeth, daughter of Athena; as well as a young satyr, Grover. As the illegitimate children of gods, Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and the others are known as heroes (a title which they all feel compelled to live up to) and doomed to lives of tragedy, caught between the worlds of humans and half-bloods, and used as pawns in the gods’ battles.

This first installment is a fun introduction to Greek mythology and is a really nice blend of real-life issues with fantastical elements. Percy struggles with self doubt, he’s been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, and he’s unhappy with his step-father. As the three heroes go on their obligatory quest, there are also elements of environmentalism and animal rights, as they all mourn the ongoing destruction of the planet and the mistreatment of animals; these elements are smoothly and appropriately incorporated into the storytelling, especially as Grover, the satyr, is a companion of Pan, the god who essentially protects the earth.

The Lightning Thief is a great adventure story, with lots of humour. It’s also a great coming-of-age type of story as Percy discovers his strengths, his courage, new friendships, and what it means to be a hero, a son, and a friend.

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