Synopsis: Percy Jackson always has a hard time fitting in at school, and usually gets kicked out of boarding school, but he can never explain the things that happen to get him expelled. He can explain it this time! During a field trip, his math teacher turned into a monster. His Latin teacher Mr. Brunner threw him a pen (that turned into a sword) and he ends up killing his math teacher. Afterwards, no one can remember Mrs. Dodd, except Percy, and maybe his best friend Grover. Percy overhears Grover and Mr. Brunner talking about him. At the end of the school year, Grover tries to guide Percy home, offering protection, etc. Percy sees three ladies cutting yarn before he loses Grover.
Percy gets home to his lovely mother and jerk of a stepdad. Percy and Mom go out to their favorite cabin on the beach, as long as she fixes her man chip dip for the poker game first, and Percy can’t get a scratch on his car (because a 13-year old would be the cause of that?) At any rate, Mom tells him a little about his dad. When a storm comes up suddenly and Grover arrives at their cabin, they run. Grover turns out to be a satyr. Percy turns out to be a demigod. They have to get Percy to Half-Blood Hill, where he can be trained to kill monsters. Mom disintegrates into gold dust when Minotaur charges her. Percy kills it. They make it to safety.
So, turns out the Latin teacher is actually Chiron, who trained Hercules, and the camp director is Mr. D. (Dionysus). Percy was nursed to health by Annabeth, a daughter of Athena. He gets put into Hermes’s cabin in the meantime while they figure out who his dad is; his RA is Luke, who seems a bit bitter. There’s a bully whose dad is Ares, Clarisse. When Clarisse tries to give Percy a swirly, he somehow gets the toilet to explode and everything is soaked except Percy. During Capture the Flag, Clarisse tries to attack him again, but Percy’s near water again and he ruins her spear (which happens to be electric– yikes.) Anyhoo, if you hadn’t guessed by now, Poseidon is Percy’s dad.
Unfortunately, knowing his daddy now is bad news. One, Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades made a pact not to have kids after WWII ended (because Hitler was a product of Hades apparently). Two, Zeus’s lightning bolt was stolen, and they’re blaming Percy. So Percy must go on a quest to retrieve the lightning bolt (he thinks Hades has it) and give it back to Zeus before the Summer Solstice in ten days. The Oracle informed Percy that “You shall go west to see the god that has turned; you shall find what is stolen, and see it safely returned. You shall be betrayed by one who calls you friend, and you shall fail to save what matters in the end.”
Annabeth and Grover are along for the ride. He has to go from New York to LA mostly by land, since Zeus the sky god is mad at him. They run into Furies, Medusa, Ares, a chimera…. will Percy succeed?
- Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was evil and didn’t summarize the whole thing. Frankly, it was getting too long and I don’t want to spoil the ENTIRE book.
- I really enjoyed this book. I’ve said before, I like fantasy-meets-reality stories, and this one was especially well-written and thrilling. If it helps kids get a better hold of Greek mythology, awesome. (You probably know this, but if you’re familiar with the Bible and mythology, your reading experience is that much richer).
- Percy is dyslexic and ADHD. Most of the kids at camp are also dyslexic. An explanation for this is that their brains were wired for Greek, not English. Pretty cool, right?
- Another cool thing is that Mt Olympus moves with the ages to where the west is flourishing. Before, Greece. Now, America.
- It’s amazing how much stock people have in their parents. Like, Annabeth several times is mean to Percy simply because Poseidon and Athena weren’t best buds. If it were provoked, fine, but geez, way to carry family feuds. Annabeth is also known for not liking spiders as a result of her mom.
- Percy’s mom married his stepdad because he reeked of disgusting human and would protect Percy by disguising him. Thanks for that nice compliment…
- Chiron came to Percy’s boarding school in a wheelchair, but as he is half-man, half-horse, it was a disguise that I never quite understood how it worked. Likewise, Grover’s “disguise” was simply he had pants on and a limp when walking (although he booked it on cheese enchilada day).
- Lots of famous people were credited to having gods as parents. Athena was apparently George Washington’s mama.
Grades: maybe 5th, 6-8. It’s really good stuff, and I think many boys would be interested in it. I don’t know if it would hold the attention of a fifth grader, but middle school age would love it.
Grade: A. I almost had this sucker read completely at the dentist office and car repair shop. (It’s been a fun week.) I love the way Riordan incorporated mythology and it was definitely a page-turner.