Monday, August 19, 2013

Great for Young Readers, but Watered Down Mythology for Adult Audiences

The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
Published by Scholastic
3 Out of 5 Stars

I hate trying to review a book like this because I'm never certain if I should review it from the perspective of an adult or from the perspective of the intended audience. As a result, let me take a stab at both.

If I were reviewing the book from my perspective, it would be more of a 2 to a 2 1/2. The book is fun, especially for those who love Greek/Roman mythology, and Riordan has some inventive twists. For instance, the half-blood children of the gods are often diagnosed by their teachers as being dyslexic and ADHD. The dyslexia is a result of their brains being hard-wired to read only in Ancient Greek and the ADHD is the result of their hyper-alert, battle-ready reflexes. When a new character appears, it's also fun to guess which Greek myth is making its appearance as a modern day incarnation. However, the characters, especially Percy and his friends, are flat and never really come to life. The gods also seem watered down; they practically scream PG-appropriate and the gods were, if anything, X-rated in their endeavors. For adults, the Incarnations of Immortality by Piers Anthony or Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips are just as entertaining and able to include all of the sex and violence inherent in the original mythology. Also, my biggest pet peeve--why did Riordan feel the need to make Pallas Athena, a virgin goddess, the mother of so many children? I don't see the necessity of such a blatant disregard for myth; the plot offers no explanation or justification for this erroneous portrayal. And it doesn't seem the slightest bit necessary as Annabeth never seems to do anything worthy of "Wisdom." Wouldn't it have been just as easy for the character of Annabeth to be the daughter of Demeter or Aphrodite? 

Having said all of this, back when I would have been part of the target age group (I'm guessing 9-12), I would have loved this series. If I had children, I would gladly purchase every book and read them together. I can see where children would love the constant adventure and the gods and monsters that appear on practically every other page. If a series like this can get children to read and to love mythology, then that's definitely worth a 3 star rating.

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