Friday, January 6, 2012

"The Lightning Thief," by Rick Riordan

Lately it seems that every book I read goes downhill from the first chapter.  Perhaps, frightened by the "agents turn you down based on the first page" threat, authors are spending all their time there, and neglecting the rest.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan was one of these books for me.  Obviously I'm in the minority, as the series is super successful and seems to be growing ever longer.

I loved the opening:  great tone and style, with an interesting premise and laugh outloud lines. 

Then I discovered that this was a story about a misfit boy, around whom strange magical things happen, who discovers he's actually magical himself.  In fact, he's the powerful chosen one.  He goes to a school where the students are divided into houses, where they learn to fight and use magic.  The boy becomes friends with a smart and nerdy girl and a clumsy but loyal boy.  They discover that there's a prophesy only the boy can fulfill, and that without him, the world may descend again into darkness.  They disobey rules in order to save the day.   Hmmm….

I like stories along the lines of the immortal Harry Potter.  I don't like stories so very, very similar I can't appreciate the story for its own merits.  Rick Riordan, couldn't you have at least made the girl the clumsy one and the boy the smart one?

The plot, once they started on their journey, felt episodic, though parts were quite exciting and creative.  The world building was good, though a few times the mythology stuff bordered on blatantly educational.  I much prefer subtly educational. 

The sub-plot with Percy's mother disturbed me.  Everyone, including Poseidon himself, believed Percy's mother to be wonderful, unlike any other woman, yet she stayed for years in an unhealthy and even abusive relationship.  Though she did it to protect her son, I would think someone as wonderful as her would be able to figure out another way.  She finally got out of the relationship, but I'm not sure I like her method.  It sends all sorts of wrong messages.

The writing's solid, though the kid slang will quickly date the book, I'm afraid.  Lots of clever details.  Quite a few good laughs.  Not, unfortunately, good enough to make me read the next books.

My rating:  3  

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