Updated: May 10
A little backstory
When I was 12 years old, I read my first Greek mythology story. Actually, I was sort of forced to. One of my English textbooks, The Trojan war. Something about it just fascinated me. I was beginning to lose my faith but learning about how the Greeks associated everything that happened around them to gods, was kinda funny and somehow got my attention. I read the entire textbook months before we were supposed to finish it. And there, in that moment, I clutched the book close to my chest and I knew, I had fallen in love with Greek Mythology. Greek mythology was my first love when it came to theological studies. It also came way before I read Harry Potter, almost 7 years earlier. And it stayed with me, ten years later and I still discover my love for it every day.
After reading almost every story out there that was related to the Greek mythology, including the ones of minor gods and goddesses, I ran out of stories to read. I re read the same books but I wanted something more, years later, after I discovered Harry Potter, I was left devasted after I finished reading the series. Harry Potter ended and I had nothing left in the world. Until I stumbled upon this gem while I was looking for series recommendations like Harry Potter. Although, this series is not from the same world like Harry Potter I re discovered something when I picked this book up. It was like I was meeting an old long-lost friend and this friend had greeted me with open arms. Discovering Percy Jackson felt like hugging someone when you missed them and they hugged you back tighter and then they wipe away your tears and tell you that they’re here to make you feel better. I re-read it for two reasons, to justify this review and as an excuse to read it again. So here goes, my review about the first book, Percy Jackson and the lightening thief.
The book starts with Percy Jackson, our protagonist, going on a school trip from Yancy Academy for troubled kids, he is portrayed as dyslexic and someone who has ADHD. They went to the local Museum of Art to study Greek and Roman stuff. We are introduced to Mr. Brunner as the Latin teacher, who is one of those teachers who always pushes you to do your best. He seemed like he always believed in Percy and knew he had potential despite Percy not believing in himself. My Brunner couldn’t walk, he moved around in a wheelchair. Then there was Grover, Percy’s best friend who had crutches and seemed kinda awkward. There seemed to be one more teacher on the trip, Mrs. Dudds, who appeared to be sketchy and tried to harm Percy by turning herself into a Fury(1) when she got a chance, Percy however escaped after fighting her but when he got back, nobody seemed to notice Mrs. Dudds was missing, except Grover who denied knowing her but Percy knew something was up. Later that evening, Percy overheared Grover and Mr. Brunner discussing about him and his suspicions were then confirmed that Grover knew something that Percy didn’t. A few days later, Percy gets expelled from Yancy academy after his deteriorating grades and Grover insists on accompanying him home. But Percy ditches him and runs back home to his mother. We are now introduced to Sally Jackson, a wonderful and patient lady who kept up with Gabe, her awful husband and Percy’s step dad. Gabe was the worst human anyone could meet; he was ungrateful and had an awful odour and aura around him.
Percy and his mum plan to go the beach for a weekend getaway and Percy decided to not tell his mother about what had happened in school because he did not want to worry her. As they reach the beach house, a rather distraught Grover bangs the door and demands they get away from there immediately as Percy was in danger. They get into the car and try to escape whatever was chasing them when Percy tells his mother about what had happened in school. Grover takes his pants off and we discover that he has hooves for his feet and that he is a satyr(2).
They head to a place called the camp, which is supposed to be a safe haven for people like them. When they reach the camp, the monster almost gets to them. We discover that the monster is actually a Minotaur(3). The Minotaur grabs Percy’s mother and crushes her till she dissipates into smoke, seeming as if she did not die but just disappeared into the atmosphere. Percy fights the Minotaur because he was filled with rage and wanted to get back at the monster for hurting his mother. He fights bravely and manages to kill it with its own horn, the monster turns into ashes but Grover mentions that monsters don’t die, they return later. Percy passes out and wakes up inside the camp with Annabeth, a young pretty girl, roughly about his age, tending to his wounds. He also meets Mr. Brunner who happens to be the centaur, Chiron(4).
The camp was known as Camp Half Blood, Percy met a lot of people almost his age there and realised that these kids were half-bloods, meaning, they were half mortal and half god (here, the Greek gods), just like Percy himself.
The camp had 12 cabins for 12 different Gods of Olympus, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Hermes, Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Apollo, and Artemis and among the three main gods, only Zeus and Poseidon had a cabin, Hades didn’t. Percy however stayed with cabin 11 campers, the cabin of Hermes since they were unsure about Percy's dad so he couldn't stay in any other cabin till one of the gods claimed him. They seemed welcoming and he befriended Luke from the Hermes cabin. Luke seemed to be very handsome and friendly and extremely good at combat. Luke teaches him how to combat and Percy studied about various Greek gods through Annabeth every day. Percy discovered that roughly around 100 years ago, the gods made a rule that they would not have offsprings with mortals. However, most of the gods broke this rule and had children regardless. During one of the games(capture the flag) that they played in the camp, Percy was claimed by his father, Poseidon. Percy realises that water can heal him and give him strength. Percy soon discovers that there has been rifle among the gods because Zeus’s lightning bolt(5) has been stolen. The gods blamed Percy for stealing it because Poseidon and Zeus had been fighting for ages and Percy being Poseidon’s son, had stolen the bolt to get back at Zeus. In order to stop world war 3 from happening, Chiron decides to send Percy on a quest. Percy consults with the oracle and then sets off with Annabeth and Grover and a gift from Luke, flying shoes.
You shall go west, and face the god who has turned,You shall find what was stolen, and see it safely returned,You shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend,And you shall fail to save what matters most, in the end.
They come across a lot of obstacles on their way. They get trapped into Medusa’s lair(6) (where they kill her and decapitate her head and send it to Olympus), they meet Ares (the god of war, who pretends to help them by giving them a bag of fresh clothes and money), they come across the Furies again, the lotus casino(7) and also make a trip to the underworld where they go through Charon(8) and finally meet Hades and discover that not just the lightning bolt but Hades helmet of invisibility was also stolen. Hades offers to release Percy’s mother if Percy finds the helmet of invisibility and gives it back to the Lord of the dead. Percy feels his bag getting heavier only to discover that it had the lightening bolt, Ares had put it in there and he tricked him into getting them killed and starting a war. The flying shoes that Luke had given, were worn by Grover and had tried to pull Grover into Tartarus(10) but Percy and Annabeth save him on time. Percy seemed to be feeling uneasy about Tartarus and it had also appeared in a lot of Percy's dreams. Percy, Annabeth and Grover then escape the underworld by crushing the pearls that Percy received from one of the smaller goddesses of the sea while fighting the furies and Percy vowed to get back Hades helmet in exchange for his mother.
After successfully escaping the underworld, Percy comes face to face with Ares with whom he fights and whom he defeats successfully and ends up getting the helmet of invisibility, which was also stolen by Ares and then Percy sends it back to Hades. He makes his way to Olympus alone and returns the lightning bolt to Zeus who seemed rather hostile and warned Percy to never set foot in Olympus again. Percy also meets his father and realises that he doesn’t resent him as much as he thought he would. After returning to the camp, he is greeted like a hero. His mother comes back and she seemed to be leading a normal life. Hades did keep his promise after all. After the end of summer, the campers seemed to be returning home and Percy is still uneasy about what the Oracle had said to him about his friend betraying him. He meets Luke to say goodbye, who then throws a deadly scorpion on him saying that he was the one who put the idea into Ares head about starting a war between the gods. He also said that he was following the orders of Kronos(10. He leaves Percy to die and Annabeth saves him after finding him unconscious. Percy explains to Chiron all that Luke had told him and then decides to go home for the summer, with a possibility of an adventure in the next book. Luke had escaped and Kronos was not dead after all, a lot of mysteries to uncover in the second book.
Things I liked about this book
The Narration: For OBVIOUS reasons! The narration is simply genius. It’s the first thing that caught my attention, it is super chilled out, Percy is the narrator and he has a GREAT sense of humour. The book is so funny.
Mr. Brunner/Chiron: Although he appears for a brief period in the book, Chiron is one of my favourite characters. He is kind, concerned about Percy like he’s family and ALWAYS pushes Percy to do his best. Chiron is the kind of teacher everyone needs.
Details: Its always the details that pull me in. The details are so realistic, like how the camp gets its funds through strawberry farms, how each scene leads to another, the story doesn’t seem forced even one bit. It just flows, you know.
Dionysus: I must have failed to mention the god of wine (please don’t turn me into a vineyard for this, Mr. D) but he is EPIC. He is one of the funniest, quirkiest, witty characters in the book. He ALWAYS gets Percy’s name wrong in the book. Perry Johnson? Really Mr. D?
The Myths: How could I not mention this. One of the reasons this is my favourite book is the fact that Rick, the author, stuck to Greek mythology in this book. He brought up stories about ancient Greek myths in between which I was aware of, but to new readers, it is a learning point. And if they weren’t interested in Greek mythology before, they sure as hell would be interested in it now. Rick just made those characters extremely cool you know. Not that they weren’t amazing before, but Rick gave justice to the characters. He is indeed the myth master.
Another teeny tiny detail I noticed while re reading the book was, the fact that thievery wasn’t exactly Poseidon’s style of doing things. So it couldn't have Percy, the son of Poseidon who stole the lightning bolt. However, it is ironic for Luke, the son of Hermes, who is also the god of thieves, to steal the lightning bolt. Also, did I mention Annabeth has a fear of spiders? Major Ron Weasley vibes. Will post the review for the other books separately, because each one is a series in itself. I really wish they made a Netflix series on this book. It TOTALLY deserves it.
I’ve taken the time to also add a few characters that I mentioned and referenced on top so that its easy for readers who are new to Greek mythology to understand the characters and the review.
1. Fury: Furies, Greek Erinyes, also called Eumenides, in Greco-Roman mythology, the chthonic goddesses of vengeance. They were probably personified curses, but possibly they were originally conceived of as ghosts of the murdered.
2. Satyr: Satyr and Silenus, in Greek mythology, creatures of the wild, part man and part goat, who in Classical times were closely associated with the god Dionysus
3. Minotaur: In Greek mythology, the Minotaur (Ancient Greek: Μινώταυρος [miːnɔ̌ːtau̯ros]; in Latin as Minotaurus [miːnoːˈtau̯rʊs]) is a mythical creature portrayed in Classical times with the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, a being "part man and part bull".
4. Chiron: Chiron, in Greek mythology, one of the Centaurs, the son of the Titan Cronus and Philyra, an Oceanid or sea nymph. Chiron lived at the foot of Mount Pelion in Thessaly. Unlike other Centaurs, who were violent and savage, he was famous for his wisdom and knowledge of medicine.
5. Zeus’s Lightning Bolt: Zeus's Lightning Bolt (a.k.a. Thunderbolt, a.k.a. Master bolt) is the signature weapon and symbol of power for the Olympian god of thunder; Zeus. It is said to be the most powerful and feared weapon on Earth and in the Heavens.
6. Medusa: In Greek mythology, Medusa also called Gorgo, was one of the three monstrous Gorgons, generally described as winged human females with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Those who gazed into her eyes would turn to stone.
7. Lotus Plant: The plant Lotus caused anyone to eat the flower or seeds to forget who he was, and his only interest was to eat more of the plants. The Lotus plant is so powerful until Odysseus had to force his crew back on the ship. They only longed to eat more of the Lotus plant.
8. Charon: Charon or Kharon (/ˈkɛərɒn, -ən/; Greek Χάρων) is a psychopomp, the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.
9. Tartarus: In Greek mythology, Tartarus was both a primordial deity that existed before the Olympians, as well as a name to describe a region of the Underworld. As a god, he was third in rank after Chaos and Gaea, preceding Eros.
10. Kronos: Kronos (Ancient Greek: Κρόνoς, Kronos), also spelled Cronus, was the king of the Titans, and father of the first generation of the Olympian gods; Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. ... He is the Titan god of Time, Harvest, Fate, Justice and Evil. His Roman name is Saturn.
Cover reference: https://in.pinterest.com/pin/708402216364752063/, user: thereaderbee - instagram
Annabeth Chase: https://in.pinterest.com/pin/491736853067578954/