The Lightning Thief: The First Book in the Percy Jackson Series

One of the challenges of parenting is finding activities that you enjoy and that your kids enjoy. The same is true with reading. There are books you like and there are books your kids like, but there are very few that you both like. The Lightning Thief is one of those few books.

Percy Jackson is a misfit at school, having been kicked out of school after school. At first it seems that he is just another New York kid diagnosed with ADHD. It turns out he is half-blood offspring of one of the Greek gods and that Mount Olympus has migrated to the 600th floor of the Empire State Building

It’s easy to compare Percy Jackson to Harry Potter. Both take kids and immerse them in a fantasy world with some friend to help them out. With Harry Potter, it was magic and wizards. Percy Jackson substitutes ancient Greek mythology.

Instead of Harry’s Ron and Hermione, Percy’s friends are a disguised satyr and the half-blood daughter of Athena. Percy has to travel from New York to Los Angeles to prevent a war between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon by finding the lightning thief. Along the way they encounter the Minotaur, the Furies, Medusa, and Ares, the god of war, decked out as a motorcycle thug.

The characters are not as interesting as the Harry Potter characters, but the storytelling is more light-hearted. Percy is more rebellious and snarkier than Harry Potter.

The true test was that when we finished the book, I thought it was good enough that I wanted to read the second book. Even better, my son asked me to read the next book. I’m heading tomorrow out to get The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2).


  1. The biggest thematic difference between Percy Jackson and Harry Potter is that all the action in Potter happens during the school year. Jackson is a summer vacation adventure.

    Great books. Really engaging, fun for kids and adults to read and they get just about every kid hooked on Greek mythology. Jaybob says two thumbs up.

    1. Jay –

      I am hoping that the books will lead to reading more about Greek mythology.

      I never liked that each Harry Potter story wrapped up with a solution just as the school year ended. I understand the structure of each book being a school year. It just struck me odd that the mystery is solved for the year just as the school year ends.

  2. For my then 5-year-old, the Percy Jackson series were the first real chapter books he let me read to him. He and his older brother (who had already read the full series with my wife) enjoyed letting me read a couple chapters a night, sometimes more if it was in a good part.

    I have high expectations for the movies, as I think these plots and images lend themselves well to the medium.

    1. Kevin –

      I also have high hopes for the movie. It’s being directed by Chris Columbus, who did the first two Harry Potter movies.

      I also love the casting of Joe Pantoliano as Percy’s stepfather and Uma Thurman as Medusa.

  3. We’ll be trying these with our kids. Thanks for the recommendation. With our third-grader, we are having trouble getting him as interested in books as we’d like (especially given that his father writes them).

    1. So the cobbler’s children have no shoes?

      I’ve had no luck with Harry Potter, so I was happy that this chapter book was well-received. It’s funnier than Potter and the characters are little more interesting.

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