Book Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series

Cover art of The Lightning Thief
Book One, Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series. Disney-Hyperion

The first book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lightning Thief, published in 2005, is an entertaining introduction to the world of half-bloods, heroes and Greek mythology. From the hilarious chapter titles (“We Take a Zebra to Vegas”), to the action-packed and thrilling chapters, to the great voice and clever writing of the characters, readers of all ages, but especially those ages 10 to 13, will find themselves immersed in Percy’s world, unable to put the book down.

Story Synopsis

The Lightning Thief's protagonist, 12-year-old Percy Jackson, who has dyslexia, can't seem to keep himself out of trouble. He has been kicked out of a lot of boarding schools, but the last thing he wants to do is get kicked out of Yancy Academy. However, on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, things go horribly wrong when he and his best friend Grover are attacked by their math teacher, who has turned into a monster.

Percy narrowly escapes this monster, then learns the truth about why his teacher attacked him. It turns out that Percy is a half-blood, the son of a Greek god, and there are monsters after him, trying to kill him. The safest place is at Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp on Long Island for the children of the gods, where Percy is introduced to a new world of gods, magic, quests and heroes.

After a series of page-turning events where Percy's mother is kidnapped and discovers that someone has stolen Zeus's mater lightening bolt — and that Percy is being blamed — he sets out on a quest with his friends Grover and Annabeth to find the lightening bolt and return it to Mount Olympus, on the 600th floor of the Empire State building. Percy and his friends' mission takes them in all sorts of odd directions and on adventures around the country. By the end, Percy and his pals have helped restore order among the gods, and his mom is set free.

Why The Lightening Thief Is Worth Reading

While the plot sounds needlessly complicated, it works as a whole to keep the reader engaged. There’s an overarching story that holds all the smaller pieces together, but in many ways, it’s the smaller side stories that introduce various Greek gods and myths that make the story so much fun to read.

Riordan knows his Greek mythology inside and out, and understand how to make them interesting for kids. It also has the benefit of appealing to both boys and girls, with both strong male and strong female heros and heroines. The Lightning Thief provides a fantastic start to a fun series. I recommended it highly for children ages 10 to 13.

About Author Rick Riordan

A former sixth grade English and social studies teacher, Rick Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Heroes of Olympus series and The Kane Chronicles series. He has also been a part of The 39 Clues Series. Riordan is an outspoken advocate of books that are accessible and interesting to read for kids with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. He is also the author of an award-winning mystery series for adults.

Other Greek Mythology Resources for Kids

If reading The Lightening Thief piques your children's interest in Greek mythology, here are some other resources to keep them learning:


Riordan, R. (2005). The Lightening Thief. New York: Hyperian Books.

Rick Riordan. (2005). Retrieved from