Greek Myth is home to the aspirations of many authors, novelists and poets. John Keats, Homer, Eliot, and even contemporary authors have extracted their share of inspiration from the vault of ancient Greek myths and rendered the same into amazing works of literature. One of the famous contemporary attempts at Greek myths is the novel The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan which was later made into a successful movie as well. In this article, I will review the same novel for readers of Indian Book Critics.
To start with appreciation, I do admit that Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief is a captivating and imaginative adventure that breathes new life into the realm of Greek mythology. Through a measured blend of humour, suspense, and relatable characters, Riordan weaves a tale that will transport readers to a world where gods and monsters coexist with unsuspecting mortals. While the novel possesses several positive aspects, it is not without its flaws. Now, one by one, I will examine the pros and cons.
Who does not want a pinch of humour? And it is one of the most commendable aspects of The Lightning Thief – Riordan’s ability to infuse humour into the narrative. As you read the novel, you will find many instances of the witty banter and sarcasm exhibited by the protagonist, Percy Jackson that lighten the mood even in the most hazardous situations. Just to point out an example, you will find when Percy faces the Minotaur, he humorously remarks, “It seemed like the Minotaur had been giving me a head start. Which was nice of him” (p. 46). And if you are into reading more than often, you may agree that such occurrences of lightheartedness add a refreshing element to the story, making it enjoyable for readers of all ages.
After the success of adding humour naturally to the narrative, one also has to give it to the author for his skills in successfully incorporating Greek mythology into a modern setting, thus making it accessible to contemporary readers. It is impressive, indeed, to witness how Riordan intertwines ancient myths and legends with the challenges Percy and his friends face. This quality certainly highlights Riordan’s masterful storytelling. Readers can witness this fusion when Percy encounters Medusa, where the author brings forth the ancient monster in a fresh and captivating manner. (Hey, buddy! Have you read the novel already or watched the movie? Do you agree? :))
The Lightning Thief can also be appreciated for the author’s relatable characters. Not only easily relatable, but these characters are also well-developed. Percy Jackson, the demigod protagonist, has a very interesting path to follow. He undergoes a profound personal journey as he grapples with his newfound identity and the responsibilities it entails. In doing so, the character has been given ample space for showing his development as a person who understands his roles and the weight that these roles bring. His struggles, doubts, and growth throughout the narrative mirror the challenges faced by many young readers in real life. Remove the godliness of Percy for a moment and you will find a young person adjusting, struggling, coming out victorious and thus proving himself worthy. And therefore, I do believe many readers may connect with the protagonist rather easily. Also, many readers will remember these words uttered by Percy, “Am I a troubled kid? Yeah. You could say that” (p. 12). This vulnerability and introspection add depth to his character, allowing readers to connect with him on a deeper level.
Well, when it comes to finding out loopholes and shortcomings in a work of literature, rarely a book will pass the scrutiny with all greens. And the same applies to The Lightning Thief as well. It does have a few shortcomings. I will start with the pacing of the story, which occasionally feels uneven. Overall, you can find that the narrative is generally fast-paced and action-packed, there are moments where the plot seems to lose momentum, bogging down the overall flow of the novel. And being a novel with 400 pages, it might challenge the patience of a few readers. Though the interesting events in the novel might keep readers’ interests aligned, regular readers will certainly get hold of this flaw in the pace.
Moreover, the resolution of inevitable conflicts in the story can feel somewhat predictable. Though the novelist might have felt helpless in these situations, it could have been averted with some contemporary resolutions of the problems and conflicts. As the plot unfolds, I bet the astute readers may anticipate certain twists and turns, dampening the element of surprise. While this does not diminish the overall enjoyment of the novel, it can make the narrative feel slightly formulaic in certain instances. And yet, this is for those who are the pros of reading contemporary fiction. Teens and young readers will still have too much to grasp and enjoy! By the way, are you looking for a wonderful reading list? Read this one – Best novels for teens (it’ll open in a new tab)
I would also like to add a new section to this review – comparing The Lightning Thief to an/other novel(s) in this genre. Remember J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter? I am not even discussing the entire series. Just compare the first one, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, and The Lightning Thief. Though Riordan’s work holds its own ground, it does fall short in terms of intricate world-building. While Riordan expertly integrates Greek mythology into a contemporary setting, the depth and complexity of Rowling’s magical universe surpass that of Riordan’s mythological realm. If you read both novels, you may agree that the intricate details of Hogwarts and the intricately woven plotlines found in Rowling’s series set a high bar for the genre.
To conclude this book review, I will put The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan as an enchanting and entertaining novel that exhibits Greek mythology in a contemporary setting. And the author does it very subtly. Also, Riordan’s use of humour brings readers to another side of the story from the beginning rather conveniently. The characters are amazing and very much relatable. Percy Jackson, as the protagonist, is the best medium to convey the story’s success – readers can find glimpses of a common young person in him. However, the novel does have a few shortcomings (that could only be found by those who are critical readers). For casual readers of fantasy fiction by contemporary authors, The Lightning Thief is an amazing read! Go ahead and get a copy to enjoy Greek mythology in a contemporary setting! Get the novel from Amazon India right now:
Review by Manish for Indian Book Critics
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – Review
- Overall Rating
The Lightning Thief emphatically announces the whole new world of the ancient Greek hierarchy of gods and demigods in a contemporary world and young readers must find it all amazing to read! A long but steady boat ride that will be enjoyable for many!