The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

The lightning thiefReading level: 4.7
Lexile: 740
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians book 1
Genre: Adventure, myth
ELL-Friendly: Mostly
Library recommendation: Middle school

Goodreads summary:

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Yer a halfblood, Percy.

Okay, yes, The Lightning Thief is quite similar to the Harry Potter series: two boys and one girl set of on an adventure, there’s a magical camp (like Hogwarts), Percy’s stepdad is like Harry’s uncle/cousin, and the gods co-exist with humans.

That said, though, I LOVED THIS BOOK, and so do a lot of my 6th graders, especially the boys. I was skeptical because I didn’t think it’d be convincing enough to draw me in. Like, the Harry Potter world is plausible (uh, kind of ) to me! As it turned out, Percy Jackson’s world is brilliantly crafted, and I was immediately drawn in. The writing itself is quite well-done, too.

Needless to say, I’ve already started the 2nd book.

Something I found weird is that Percy is clearly very close to his mother. But even when he believes his mother is dead, he’s pretty much fine. He’s like, “Yeah, Camp Halfblood is fun. Yeah, friends! Oh, right, I’m a little sad about my mom…” However, he does go to great lengths to get this mom back, but still. I’d be pretty frantic if I were him.

I learned a lot about the Greek gods – like, who’s the god(dess) of what. Riordan definitely did his homework.

ELLs may struggle with all the Greek names, but that’s really the only problem that I see. It’s a low reading level, and all the gods (and an occasional goddess) are explained as they are introduced.

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