Ten years ago, one of my grade 6 student’s told me that if I liked Harry Potter, I would love The Lightning Thief. When I opened the book I was transported to a magical world with heroes and monsters, and hidden but powerful gods that changed the world with their demigod children. I will always have a place on my bookshelf for The Lightning Thief. Here are ten reasons why I love Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief.

  1. Percy: Percy Jackson is easy to identify with, no matter the readers age. He is brave, adventurous, a loyal son, and possesses a good heart. He protects his friends and tries to make things right when he can. Percy is every twelve year old boy in existence. Constantly in trouble and never sure what he did wrong. You don’t have to be twelve to empathize with Percy.
  1. Annabeth: Very few books make two characters the centre of the story. Annabeth Chase is the other half to this book. She is a strong character that is crucial to Percy’s success. For the story to work, they need each other. Annabeth is the daughter of Athena, and she acts as the tactician planner for Percy’s quest in the book. A book of this magnitude has two strong characters, and they work so well that no matter your gender, you can identify with either one of them. You root for Annabeth as much as Percy.
  1. Greek Mythology: The Lightning Thief introduces us to multiple facets of Greek mythology. Better yet, we can understand it, and make sense of the many layers of parents, siblings, and immortals. Percy Jackson, the son of a mortal mother and Poseidon God of the Ocean is our guide through this complicated world of godly parents, and demonic monsters like the Minotaur. As you read the book, what seemed complicated in school, the knowledge of understanding the Greek gods, is understandable and connectable.
  1. Camp Half Blood: Harry Potter had Hogwarts, but Percy Jackson has Camp Half-Blood. A refugee for all demigods, the children of mortal and immortals, Camp Half-Blood is a training ground for the future leaders of the world. At Camp Half-Blood we have the standard camp activities like volleyball courts and campers’ cabins, but also sword and spear fights and more nymphs and nature spirits than anyone can handle. It’s a camp, but one that trains you for quests and to fight the monsters that live in the world. Only demigods are allowed in.
  1. Medusa: The tale of Medusa being turned to a hideous monster by Zeus and being able to turn humans to stone upon first looking upon her horrid face is one of the few things I remembered from studying Greek mythology. The Lighting Thief shows us a modern Medusa running a garden gnome emporium, with fresh garden gnomes being made from her unsuspecting customers. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover battle and it is Percy who defeats her on their quest.
  1. Percy’s Mom: Sally Jackson is a good mother who works very hard to protect her son. Percy is expelled countless times from school and she never gets angry with him. She even marries the abusive and vile Gabe because his literal smell will shield Percy from the monsters that hunt demigods. Sally sacrifices herself to the Minotaur so Percy could safely cross into Camp Half-Blood territory. She always thinks of Percy first. Who wouldn’t want Sally as their mother?
  1. Kids Can Relate: In the world of The Lighting Thief the mean teachers that have tormented and taunted Percy are monsters out to kill him. Percy has ADD because he is hard wired to read the ancient Greek language. As an adult it is fun to see these events happen to Percy and think back about similar situations and laugh. But imagine being the young reader who was experiencing these real problems of not getting along with your teachers, and having ADD. A story embracing these childhood angsts empowers readers and brings comfort to those who feel different.
  1. The Journey to the Underworld: Stepping inside DOA Recording Studios in West Hollywood takes Percy, Annabeth, and Grover on a journey to the Underworld and Hades. Charon, Hades’ ferryman, is introduced as a tired employee of the Lord of the Underworld who is in need of a pay raise. We watch as he ferries Percy, Annabeth, and Grover across the rivers Styx and Acheron so they can find Zeus’ missing lightning bolt. They even play fetch with Cerberus the three headed guard dog. What may seem scary, death and the devil, is transformed into something understandable.
  1. The Mystery: If the Greek god’s are alive and controlling the world then there needs to be a lot of real world events and locations that have alternative explanations and uses. Why can’t anyone find Camp Half-Blood? The mist which acts on mortals and shields them from the monsters walking around them, also keeps them from ever finding the camp, or Mount Olympus at the top of the Empire State Building. We learn that George Washington was a great general because he was a demigod, and William Shakespeare’s writing ability is a result of him being a demigod.
  1. The Movie: They made a movie. Great books allow you to imagine the world that is portrayed on the page through your mind. The Lightning Thief has a movie version to watch after reading the book. In my opinion, the movie is not as good as the book, but it still allows you to see everything you have read in front of you for a couple of hours. There are so many books that never get the movie treatment. Even if the movie version doesn’t follow the story page by page, it’s always worth checking out.

After I read The Lightning Thief I had to read more. Fortunately for me, I came late to the book and series and I had the next four books in the series to read immediately. None of them disappointed me. Rarely are their characters that can excite you and keep you interested, but the characters that began in The Lightning Thief are the ones you cheer for, and wish you could be friends with.