The Lightning Thief

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The Lightning Thief
AuthorRick Riordan
Cover artistPeter Bollinger
John Rocco (later edition matching the sequels)
CountryUnited States
SeriesPercy Jackson & the Olympians (book 1)
GenreFantasy, Greek mythology, young-adult novel
PublisherMiramax Books
Puffin Books, Disney-Hyperion
Publication date
July 1, 2005 (hardcover)
April 1, 2006 (paperback)[1]
Media typePrint (hardcover), audiobook CD
LC ClassPZ7.R4829 Li 2005[2]
Followed byThe Sea of Monsters 

The Lightning Thief is a 2005 fantasy-adventure novel which is based on Greek mythology. It is the first young-adult book written by author Rick Riordan. It is the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. The series is about the adventures of a modern 12-year-old named Percy Jackson after he discovers he is a demigod (half-human, half-god). Percy is the son of a mortal woman, named Sally and the Greek god Poseidon. Percy and his friends try to prevent a war between the Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.

Rick Riordan finished writing his manuscript in 1994. The Lightning Thief was first bought by Bantam Books in 1997. Bantam sold it to Miramax Books. Miramax published it on June 28, 2005. The book sold more than 1.2 million copies in the next four years. The book won many awards. In 2007, it was on The New York Times Best Seller list for children's books. It was one of the Young Adult Library Services Association's Best Books for Young Adults. It was made into a movie named Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. The movie was first shown in the United States on February 12, 2010.[3] The next book in the series is The Sea of Monsters.

Concept and development[change | change source]

Rick Riordan, the author, at the release of The Battle of the Labyrinth

Planning for both The Lightning Thief and the series began when Riordan started making up stories for his nine-year-old son, Haley.[4] He had started studying Greek mythology (stories) in second grade. He wanted his father to tell him stories about them before he went to sleep. Riordan had taught Greek myths as a middle school teacher.[5] He remembered some of the myths, which he then told to his son. Soon, Riordan had told him all the stories. When Haley wanted him to make up new stories using the characters from the myths, Riordan created the character of Percy Jackson. Like Percy, Haley had ADHD and dyslexia. He made up the story of how Percy traveled across the United States to search for Zeus' master bolt. After hearing the story, Haley wanted his father to write a book about Percy and his friends.[6]

In June 1994, Riordan finished the story. He started looking for agents to publish it. He went to many local colleges to find an editor before finding an agent.[7] He gave his manuscript to his agent and editor to review. At the same time, he gave the book to some sixth, seventh and eighth graders to read and tell him what was good or bad about it. They named the book and helped Riordan describe how Percy's sword (Riptide) worked.[8] In June 1997, Riordan signed with Bantam Books to prepare the book for publishing.[7] In 2004, Miramax Books bought the book. The money was enough for Riordan to quit his teaching job and spend his time on writing.[9] The book was published on June 28, 2005. It sold over 1.2 million copies. The book had hardcover, softcover and audio editions.[10] It has been translated into many languages. It has been published all over the world.[11]

Plot[change | change source]

The Lightning Thief is a fantasy–adventure novel which uses the ideas of ancient Greek mythology[12] in today's world.[13] It is written in a fast-paced,[12][14] humorous (funny) style.[13]

Summary[change | change source]

Percy Jackson is a 12 year old boy. He has ADHD and dyslexia. He has been thrown out of many schools. On a trip with his mother, he meets his friend Grover, a satyr (half-goat, half-human). Grover tells Percy's mother that Percy must go to a camp. When they drive towards the camp, a Minotaur (monster) attacks them and kills Percy's mother. but Grover and Percy escape.

Percy later wakes up. He learns that he is in Camp Half-Blood, which is a secret training camp for demigods. Percy has to live in the Hermes cabin because he does not know which god his father is. He is under the care of Luke Castellan, the cabin counselor (leader). During a game, the children of the war god Ares attack Percy. He is healed when he steps into a river. When Poseidon's trident appears above his head, Percy learns that he is Poseidon's son. After World War II, Poseidon, Hades and Zeus made an oath (promise) not to have any more children because they were too powerful. However, Poseidon broke the oath by having Percy.

Chiron tells Percy to find Zeus' master lightning bolt. Chiron thinks Hades stole the bolt. However, Zeus discovers that Poseidon has broken his oath, and thinks Poseidon told Percy to steal the bolt. He tells Percy that he has ten days until the summer solstice to find it. Before leaving, Luke gives Percy magic shoes. Percy gives them to Grover (a satyr and Percy’s best friend from Yancy). Annabeth (a daughter of Athena) and Grover join Percy in his quest to find the bolt.

They decide to travel west to reach the entrance to the Underworld, which is in Los Angeles. They also meet Ares. When they come near the pit of Tartarus, Luke’s shoes try to pull Grover into it, but he escapes. Percy meets Hades, who also thinks Percy stole the Master Bolt. He also thinks Percy stole his Helm of Darkness. Percy knows that Ares has tricked him when he finds the bolt in his backpack. He runs away from the Underworld. He has to leave his mother there. Percy fights and wins. Ares gives Percy the Helm of Darkness. Percy gives it back to Hades. Olympus is now present at the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. Percy arrives there to give the master bolt to Zeus.

Percy goes back to camp after hearing that his mother is alive. He meets Luke, who says that he stole the bolt for Kronos. He calls a poisonous scorpion which stings and nearly kills Percy. Percy kills the scorpion first. Chiron cures Percy, who leaves camp. He goes to a new school and stays with his mother instead of staying at camp.

Important characters[change | change source]

  • Percy Jackson – He is the protagonist (hero, main character); a 12 year old boy who has ADHD and dyslexia. Percy soon learns that he is the son of Greek god Poseidon and that his disabilities are natural for demigods. Soon he is forced on an adventure to find Zeus' master bolt to stop a war among the gods from starting.
  • Annabeth Chase – Annabeth is the daughter of the goddess Athena who was brought to Camp Half-Blood by Luke, Thalia, and Grover. She helps nurse Percy after he is attacked by a Minotaur. She also joins Percy on his quest for Zeus' master bolt.
  • Grover Underwood – He is a satyr disguised as a boy and Percy's best friend. He is a recruiter for Camp Half-Blood. He leads Percy to the Camp after his mother is taken and goes with him on his journey to find Zeus' master bolt.
  • Luke Castellan – Luke is the leader of the Hermes cabin at Camp Half-Blood. He helps train Percy in the art of battle. Later, he betrays Percy and leaves him almost dead. This reveals that he works for the Titan Kronos.

Reception[change | change source]

The Lightning Thief received mostly positive reviews. Common Sense Media said "there are two levels of fun in The Lightning Thief. One is the fast-paced quest of a young hero and his friends to save the world" and added "another level of fun here – laughing at the wicked ways the author has updated the gods and monsters for the 21st century".[13] However, it criticized some parts of the book. They described the prose as "choppy and attitude-filled" and complained that "[t]he characters aren't emotionally involving". Its overall rating was 4 stars out of 5.[13] The New York Times praised The Lightning Thief as "perfectly paced, with electrifying moments chasing each other like heartbeats".[15] School Library Journal said in its starred review (which is given to outstanding books) that the book was "An adventure-quest with a hip edge" and that "Readers will be eager to follow the young protagonist's next move".[16] Kirkus praised the book and said, "Packed with humorous (funny) allusions to Greek mythology and clever updates of the old stories, along with rip-snorting [intense] action sequences, the book really shines in the depiction of Percy – wry, impatient, academically hopeless, with a cut-to-the-chase bluntness one would wish for in a hero of old." Eoin Colfer, author of Artemis Fowl, called it "A fantastic blend (mix) of mythology and modern".[17] Publishers Weekly also praised the book, regarding it as "swift and humorous" and added that the book would "leave many readers eager for the next installment."[18] On April 8, 2007, The Lightning Thief was ranked ninth on The New York Times Best Seller list for children's books.[19] When speaking about the various awards, Rick Riordan said:

"The ultimate compliment for a children's writer is when the kids like it."[20]

Awards[change | change source]

The Lightning Thief was the winner of the School Library Journal Best Book of 2005.[21] It was also one of the books in Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books List, 2005.[22] It was also in the VOYA Top Shelf Fiction List.[23] The book was the Red House Children's Book Award Winner (UK), 2006,[24] and also won Askews Torchlight Award (UK), 2006,[25] and the Mark Twain Award (Missouri Association of School Librarians), 2008.[26] It was an ALA Notable Book, 2006[27] and a New York Times Notable Book (2005).[28] It received the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award in 2009.[29]

Adaptations[change | change source]

Movie adaptation[change | change source]

In June 2004, 20th Century Fox bought feature movie rights to the book.[30] In April 2007, director Chris Columbus was hired to lead the project. Logan Lerman played Percy Jackson, Brandon T. Jackson played Grover Underwood, the satyr, Alexandra Daddario played the role of Annabeth while Jake Abel was cast as Luke Castellan. Pierce Brosnan played Chiron. The movie is titled Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief[31] and was first shown in the United States on February 12, 2010.[3] The movie made $226 million combined at the box office.[32]

Audiobook[change | change source]

On June 28, 2005, a 10 hour 25 minute audio book version of The Lightning Thief, read by actor Jesse Bernstein, was published worldwide by Listening Library.[33]

Kirkus said in their review, "the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced [fast paced] quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty". AudioFile Magazine praised the audiobook, saying both adults and children will be "spellbound" when they listen to "this deeply imaginative tale unfold."[33] School Library Journal both praised and criticized the audio book saying "Although some of Jesse Bernstein's accents fail (the monster from Georgia, for instance, has no Southern trace in her voice), he does a fine job of keeping the main character's tones and accents distinguishable".[34]

Sequel[change | change source]

The Lightning Thief is followed by The Sea of Monsters. There, Percy and Annabeth rescue Grover, who has been taken prisoner by Polyphemus, the Cyclops. They get the Golden Fleece from Polyphemus' island to save the camp. They are joined by Percy's half brother, Tyson, and Clarisse in this mission.

Like The Lightning Thief, it won several prizes. It was received well by reviewers too.[35][36] It sold over 100,000 copies in paperback.[37]

Foreign language editions[change | change source]

The Lightning Thief was published in many languages. It was published in French, German, Spanish, Finnish, Swedish, Hebrew, Brazilian Portuguese, Serbian and Dutch. The French edition is known as Le voleur de foudre (OCLC 3199424908).[38] The German name of the book is Diebe im Olymp (OCLC 2554901802).[39] These two, along with the Spanish version El ladrón del rayo (OCLC 748684882),[40] were published in 2006. The three other translations of the book, Salamavaras (OCLC 23120723516),[41] in Finnish, O ladrão de raios, in Brazilian Portuguese, (in Portugal it is called Os Ladrões do Olimpo meaning The Thieves of Olympus) and פרסי ג׳קסון וגנב הברק or Persi G'eḳson ṿe-ganav ha-baraḳ (OCLC 24382472372) in Hebrew were published in 2008.[42]

References[change | change source]

  1. Riordan, Rick (2006). The Lightning Thief. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 0-7868-3865-5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The lightning thief"] (first edition). LC Online Catalog". Library of Congress ( Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rick Riordan. "Contact Information". Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  4. Williams, Sally (February 6, 2010). "Percy Jackson: My boy's own adventure". The Guardian. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  5. "An Interview with Rick". Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  6. Riordan, Rick. "Where did you get the idea for Percy Jackson?". p. 1. Archived from the original on June 27, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Riordan, Rick. "What was your experience getting published?". p. 1. Archived from the original on June 27, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  8. Riordan, Rick. "Did you share the Percy Jackson novel with any of your students before it was published?". p. 1. Archived from the original on June 27, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  9. Rich, Motho (September 1, 2008). "Author of Book Series Sends Kids on a Web Treasure Hunt". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  10. "Hyperion: Percy Jackson". Hyperion Books. Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  11. Mabe, Chauncey (May 14, 2009). "Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson vs. Harry Potter". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Thompson, Kathy. "The Lightning Thief". The Thunder Child. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 "The Lightning Thief – Book Review". Matt Berman. Common Sense Media. p. 1. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
  14. Oksner, Robert. "The Lightning Thief". Kidsreads. Archived from the original on February 23, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  15. Shulman, Polly (November 13, 2005). "Harry Who?". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  16. "More Mythadventures". Patricia D. Lothrop. p. 1. Archived from the original on April 10, 2008. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  17. Steve, Bennett (February 12, 2010). "Monster Mania". San Antonia Express News.
  18. "Children's Book Review: The Lightning Thief". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  19. "Children's Books". The New York Times. April 8, 2007. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  20. Minzesheimer, Bob (January 18, 2006). "'Lightning' strikes with young readers". USA Today. Retrieved May 26, 2009.
  21. Jones, Trevelyn; Toth, Luann; Charnizon, Marlene; Grabarek, Daryl; Fleishhacker, Joy (January 12, 2005). "Best Books 2005". School Library Journal. p. 1. Archived from the original on April 22, 2010. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  22. "Book awards: Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book List". p. 1. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  23. "Book awards:VOYA Top Shelf Fiction List". p. 1. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  24. "Past winners from 2000 - 2009". p. 1. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  25. "Askews Torchlight Award". p. 1. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  26. "Mark Twain Award 2007–08 Winners". Missouri Association of School Librarians. Archived from the original on March 4, 2006. Retrieved May 27, 2009.
  27. "2006 Best Books for Young Adults with annotations". American Library Association. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  28. "Notable Books of 2005". The New York Times. December 4, 2005. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  29. "Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award winners". Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  30. Claude Brodesser (June 23, 2004). "'Lightning Thief' strikes Maverick". Variety. Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved April 18, 2007.[dead link]
  31. "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  32. Rick Riordan. "Contact Information". Archived from the original on January 24, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Bernstien, Jesse (2005). "The Lightning Thief". AudioFile. p. 1. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  34. "Audio Reviews: October, 2005". School Library Journal. October 1, 2005. p. 1. Archived from the original on April 22, 2010. Retrieved May 25, 2009.
  35. "Mark Twain Award Previous Winners". Missouri Association of School Librarians. Retrieved May 27, 2009.
  36. Ruth, Sheila. "The Sea of Monsters". Wands and Worlds. Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  37. Nawotka, Edward (April 23, 2007). "Son of Poseidon Gaining Strength". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  38. "Le voleur de foudre". WorldCat. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  39. "Diebe im Olymp". WorldCat. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  40. "El ladrón del rayo". WorldCat. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  41. "Salamavaras". WorldCat. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  42. "G'eḳson ṿe-ganav ha-baraḳ". WorldCat. Retrieved September 13, 2010.

Other websites[change | change source]

The Lightning Thief on IMDb