A Few Quick Words on The Lightning Thief

For a little while now, I have been wanting to read the Percy Jackson series and see if it is what it’s made out to be. Now that I’ve read The Lightning Thief, I should probably say a word about what I thought of it. I don’t feel like writing a full-blown review at the moment, but a few thoughts mightn’t go astray.

In some respects, the book actually reminded me of Harry Potter. Percy, like Harry, is not normal: one is a demigod, the other a wizard — but both spent their early years thinking they were normal and wondering why supernatural things always happened to them accidentally. Both were bullied in the normal world and were never really happy there. Both of them, while brave and kind-hearted, have a slight rebellious flair. Both of them are good fighters and seem to have good luck.

The book has other similarities to Harry Potter. There is another trio of friends: Harry, Ron and Hermione is replaced with Percy, Annabeth and Grover. The world of the gods is very much a modern world of the gods — it mirrors today’s society — in very much the same way as the wizarding world of Harry Potter. A major difference is that Harry Potter stays at Hogwarts (like Camp Half-Blood?) while Percy treks across America. The climax is also different to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in make up, but there are characters which remind me, in some ways, of Snape, Quirrel, and Voldemort. And then, of course, there is the ubiquitous element of the villain telling the protagonist all his secrets before he kills him…

I don’t know think I liked The Lightning Thief quite as much as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone though. The world of the Greek gods, while still brilliantly put together, doesn’t captivate me as much as the wizarding world, with Quidditch, interesting school subjects, and a Ministry for Magic. I think it is a very good idea, and reasonably well executed, but perhaps not as tremendous idea and as tremendously well executed as Harry Potter. There are a few little things that put me off very slightly as well. For example Percy’s mother works at a sweetshop: I am not a big fan of most candy (with the exception of chocolate) so to me doesn’t really seem to fit her personality (I mean such a lovely lady always comes home with a bag of sticky, tooth-rotting stuff for Percy?). Now if she worked in a bakery and came home with all manner of lovely baked goods, that would be different…

So, I liked The Lightning Thief; I liked the way humorous way Rick Riordan deals with Greek gods in modern times; I liked the exciting adventure — but it’s not quite my new favourite book. I’m definitely glad I read it though, and hopefully I’ll get to read a few more in the series in the next couple of months. It probably wasn’t helpful to compare it so much to Harry Potter because they are different series by different authors, but there were a few elements I thought I’d compare and as I wrote I kept thinking of more.

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About Leinad

Leinad, also known as Keras the Unknown (Keras for short), also known as Thevarul, is an MK who likes to run, read, write and play board-games.

Posted on July 20, 2012, in Book Review, My Thoughts, Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You’re right about most of the parallels to Harry Potter, but I would say that instead of the story elements putting PJ+O above HP, it’s the humor. Rick Riordan is by far more humorous than Rowling. And one of the coolest things about the PJ+O series is how they traverse the world pointing out monuments that we think we built ourselves– but were actually built as monuments to the gods. It’s an interesting alternate history.

    But the biggest difference I see between wizards and demigods is their attitude toward the general public: wizards from HP are completely apathetic and even scornful of “Muggles”, and yet they lean on the crutch of their magic. It doesn’t matter to them that Muggles have gotten to the same level of society without magic– they all feel superior anyway. With demigods, however, they are all dedicated to protecting mortals against the wrath of gods, titans, monsters, and the like. They don’t scorn mortals because they understand that mortals aren’t any different or any worse than them for not seeing things as they really are. Whereas any wizard wouldn’t hesitate to hurt a few Muggles if it would mean stopping Death Eaters, dementors, what-have-you; Percy Jackson and co. would never take action if it would mean killing a mortal. The gods might, as Ares does at the end of the Lightning Thief– but no demigod would.

    From a moral standpoint, therefore, I think that PJ+O is much better than HP. Harry begins the book as a jerk and has stayed that way through the four books I’ve read so far– Percy begins as a whiny little kid but grows out of it quickly.

    • Thanks for all that Liam, I like getting thought-out responses.

      It is true that while Harry is courageous – definitely a true Gryffindor – he is also often fool-hardy (fool-hardiness and courageousness often overlap) and can be a bit of a jerk. On the whole, though, I’m not sure I would agree that the series is weak on morals. I am reading The Deathly Hallows at the moment (that is, I was reading the copy of a family I was staying with, but now I have left their house so I’ll need to buy myself a copy) and in it, one of the characters was saying that wizards should protect their muggle neighbours at all costs. He didn’t think much of a “wizards first” mind-set – he said that from “wizard’s first” it is easy to slip to “pure-bloods first” and then “death-eaters first”. He said that human life was number one priority: wizard or muggle.

      Of course, it is true, the general standpoint of the wizarding community is not quite that pro-muggle.

      You’re right about Percy Jackson being funny! I especially like the chapter titles. Harry Potter is more serious than Percy Jackson, but it still has its funny bits.

      • I’d like to shake that wizard’s hand and then join him in bashing Harry Potter over the head. I really don’t like Harry by this point. Did I say this already? He went through four books without any character development.

  2. I am starting to think that possibly you don’t like Harry much, so I won’t mention that he was very heartened to hear that wizard’s message : )

    I have requested two more books in the Percy Jackson series, but the waiting list is very very long.

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