I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, here, Percy.
This was so much fun.
The Percy Jackson series is one of those series that has been showing up on my recommendations lists for years at this point, probably since it was first published. It was showing up on all of those "Hey, you liked Harry Potter? You should try..." lists too.
This is probably why it took me so long to get around to it.
I am extremely strange when it comes to recommendations about how much I will love books. That's probably overdue as a topic of its own at some point, but let's just leave it at the more a book is recommended to me, the less likely I am to read it, just out of spite. I almost always regret this in the end (and I am getting better about it!), but it is a consistent problem I will always have to some degree.
I deeply resent how long it kept me from starting this series.
Mythology has always been a fascination of mine. I adore Arthurian stories. Except for the classics (The Iliad, The Odyssey) I feel like Greek and Roman mythology novels are kind of rare, which is a shame because there is so much that can be done with it. Those gods are kind of messed up, and there are so many ways you can interpret their relationships and they can interact with the world and their demigod children that more ought to be done with it.
Rick Riordan clearly realized this hole in literature, especially in YA literature, and decided to fill it. And wow did he manage.
I like Percy quite a bit. He is not always the brightest crayon in the box, but he is clever where it counts and certainly brave. He's easy to root for and works extremely well as a main character. He is not a brat and he wants to do the right thing. He reacts to the discovery of his heritage with just the right amount of disbelief--he doesn't carry it too far (that starts to get very annoying in a book), but he doesn't accept it immediately (that is also annoying--this is an amazing thing that you are being told to believe!). His relationship with his mother is well-written and believable, and I feel like he reacts to his father in just the right way as well--he's not completely sure about him. He doesn't overreact to the whole thing and get insanely (stupidly) angry, but he isn't sure he can just accept their relationship quickly, either.
In other words, Percy acts the way he should about almost everything, which I love in a character. He is a good guy, but not a perfect guy, and he gets stuff done. He steps up to the plate and handles things and doesn't let fear stand in his way.
The other main characters are fantastic, too.
There is a bit of a trio going here, just like in Harry Potter (probably one of many reasons it was showing up on all of those lists). Annabeth is the clever one, often good for a sneaky plan or a thoughtful idea or just a snarky comment. She is funny and fun and I love having her along for the ride. Grover is adorably incompetent at an awful lot of things, but is loyal and trustworthy and always there with some kind of attempt to help. The two of them together work fabulously well at keeping Percy sane and intact with everything that is going on.
And there is an awful lot going on in this book. Given the title of the book is "The Lightning Thief," you can probably make a decent guess that something has been stolen, but tracking down the thief and running through all the explanations of why is convoluted in the absolute best sense of the word.
The book properly "starts" at Camp Half-Blood, which feels a bit like a combination of Hogwarts and the Hunger Games arena. It is dangerous and full of demi-gods who don't always get along (much as their Olympian parents don't), and it is kind of awesome. Once Percy discovers his real heritage and is sent on a quest, I'm actually quite sad to leave the place, because it seems like there is a lot of intereresting potential there that will hopefully be explored in later books in the series.
The mystery of who stole the lightning takes Percy and friends across the country and through the Underworld itself, and their adventures are always interesting. I made a good guess on part of the solution, but didn't actually get all of it, possibly because stopping to think very hard would have meant I needed to quit inhaling this book.
I am currently waiting on my hold on the second book to come in, and it is taking long enough I've considered just outright buying the whole series, I am that invested. I intend to read all of the other (possibly interconnected?) series that Rick Riordan has written as well, because I was completely sold on the combination of mythology and seriousness in the plot and the humor inherent in the characters. The book is highly, highly recommended.