This is the first book in Riordan’s series, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.” In The Lightning Thief, the protagonist is a junior high school boy with a touch of ADHD who has been kicked out of yet another boarding school, as the story opens. He has studied Greek Mythology under Mr. Brunner, his teacher, but is shocked when the mythology begins to affect and appear in his own life. Percy has a special bond with his mom and a hazardous relationship with his repulsive stepfather. Unsuccessfully, Percy tries to get his mom to talk about his father, hoping perhaps to go and live with him. His mother is evasive and mysterious which only fuels Percy’s determination to find him.
At a summer camp where Mr. Brunner is a counselor, Percy runs into Grover, a friend from school and meets Annabeth, and the three form an alliance against the bullies at camp. Later after it is revealed that Percy is a halfling like Annabeth, in fact the son of Poseidon (Annabeth is the daughter of Athena), he and his trio are given a quest to find and recover Zeus’ thunderbolt, a weapon that has been stolen, threatening to start an all-out war between the gods of Mount Olympus.
The story has “electrifying moments” and is packed with action and attacks on the three friends as they travel. The themes of heroism, family, friendship, and loyalty are developed throughout the novel. It is oft times humorous, often wistful, and always action-packed. The kids’ quest leads from the Atlantic to the Pacific–literally, and there is never a boring moment or lull in the story. It is a great read for any age, and the promise of a wonderful series.