What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the premise of the story is that Greek gods have affairs with mortal women and the resulting children are demigods. You'll find fantasy violence including swordplay and monsters. Percy's mom is apparently killed in front of him and his stepfather, who drinks to excess, used to hit his mother. There's also a trip to the afterlife, ruled by Hades, with its entrance in Hollywood.
What's the story?
Percy Jackson, dyslexic and hotheaded, has been kicked out of yet another school. But stranger things are happening around him, and soon he finds himself at Camp Half-Blood, a refuge and training ground for children of the Greek gods, who are still around and causing trouble for humans. He discovers that his dyslexia is caused by his brain being hardwired for Greek, and his hotheadedness is because, well, he's a hero. All too soon Percy discovers which god is his father, and that he's a pawn in a titanic battle between the gods that may ignite World War III. Accompanied by a daughter of Athena and a young satyr, Percy is sent to retrieve Zeus' lightning bolt from Hades, who supposedly stole it. But things are even more complicated than he and the gods imagined, and there are dangerous plots afoot.
Is it any good?
Written from Percy's point of view in choppy, attitude-filled prose, there are two levels of fun in THE LIGHTING THIEF. One is the fast-paced quest of a young hero and his friends to save the world. The characters aren't emotionally involving, but nonetheless this part is exciting, suspenseful, and very satisfying. Children who don't know much mythology can still enjoy the breakneck adventure on its own.
For those who do know Greek myths, or those inspired to learn about them, there's another level of fun here -- laughing at the wicked ways the author has updated the gods and monsters for the 21st century. Ares is a cross between a Hell's Angel and a professional wrestler, a math teacher is a harpy in disguise, and demigods can communicate by IMing -- Iris messaging (you'll have to read it to get the details on that one). A fun read for anyone, and a great read-aloud for a class studying mythology.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the references to Greek gods and myths. Finding and identifying the references can be a fun parent/child game.
Issues such as urban sprawl and environmental destruction are also raised. Why are they so important to Grover and his kind especially?