The subject matter was an interesting twist on gods hidden in plain
sight, but I could not get into the story. I was bored through most of
it, and I’m not sure if it was the story, the main character, or the
writing. The adventures were done video game style, bouncing from one to
the next, and with some cohesion relating them to the main story, but I
didn’t find them very interesting. I think the main problem was that I
couldn’t relate to the main character, even as a reluctant hero.
There are two main types of students, one who like going to school, and
the others who don’t. Percy is one of the latter, and as such, I
couldn’t relate to him from the start, especially given his reputation
as a troublemaker. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I also believe
Harry Potter was a horrible student, and couldn’t relate to many aspects
of his character -yet I liked him and his story. Here, I couldn’t get
invested in the character, and that persisted throughout the entire
The book is written in the first person, like
Games and Divergent series. Unlike those series, this book is more
cartoonish, with less serious undertones, and as such, it’s meant for
younger audiences. My age-appropriate audience was bored also, and I had
a lot of trouble convincing him to continue reading night after night.
Percy is a self-admitted problem student, and not just because
of his Greek-inspired dyslexia. The book starts with him getting
attacked by a teacher on a field trip, though the teacher turns out to
be a monster sent from the underworld. He eventually goes home from the
boarding school, to his terrible stepfather and when his mother arrives,
she decides to take him to their waterside cabin -only they are attacked
and his mother is apparently killed as she sends him to Camp Half-Blood.
There, Percy finds out he is son of a god, and eventually it is
revealed that he is Poseidon’s son. I liked the divisions in the camp,
from the unknown campers whose parents, one of them a god, had
indiscretions with a mortal, and who attract monsters to them because of
it. They are safe in this haven of a camp, where they learn all sorts of
Greek stuff, including sword fighting and team missions. Many of the
cabins are empty, and the author sets up some tension between the
different houses, especially Ares, the god of war. I liked the way Percy
could control the taps in the shower to spray Clarisse and the others
when they were bullying him.
I found the prophecy to be a bit
cheesy, and even though the author said it was vague, it actually was
pretty precise. And so Percy goes on a quest to rescue his mother from
Hades and the underworld, at the same time heading in search of Zeus’
stolen lightning bolt. The three brothers, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades,
have vowed to go to war if the bolt is not returned. Each thinks the
other had something to do with the theft, which is of course not true.
Grover was a satyr who dressed like a human to watch over Percy
at school, so they already knew each other. Percy’s next best friend was Annabeth, daughter of Athena. They know a lot more about the hidden
world than Percy, and as he learns, so do we. It’s fun how the author
attributes real-world events to the Greek gods, especially the wars and
environmental disruption of the last millennia. It’s all apparently due
to abandoning the Greek gods.
Mount Olympus is in New York,
while the entrance to the underworld is in L.A., so they have to travel
across the country to get from the Camp (also near New York) to find
Hades. The excuse of why they couldn’t fly -Zeus would shoot the plane
down with Percy on it- was a neat twist, allowing for various adventures
as they spend their days traveling. So they get assaulted by underworld
beasts on the bus, which they escape, but which makes Percy a wanted
man, even put on national television with his uncle fake-crying over him on
Their first big test is against the Medusa, who
tries to lure them in with food and candy, at her garden statue shop.
After a brief fight, they chop her head off, and Percy mails it to the
underworld (it never gets there, but is returned to sender at Percy’s
apartment, where he gives it to his revived mother as a gift to use
against Gabe). They use reward money from rescuing a dog to get partway
across the country, where they are assaulted at the Archway in Saint
Louis. Again, Percy survives and is vilified on TV, but when he jumps
out of the hole into the river, he is saved by servants of his father
Poseidon, which piques his curiosity.
Ares meets them at a café,
where he promises to help if they recover his shield for him at a
defunct waterpark where he was trying to get amorous with a goddess, and
was chased away by the news coverage. Percy and Annabeth are humiliated as
well, but they do end up recovering his shield. He books them in the
trailer of a truck going to Las Vegas, with illegally obtained animals.
When they arrive, they free the animals, which was pretty funny, but get
trapped in the Lotus casino, where they pass an enormous amount of time
because of the effect that place has on humans. It takes all of Percy’s
strength to break free.
When they finally get to L.A., and find
the location of the entrance, the story gets dark, and they trick and
cajole their way in, only to be chased from place to place until they
encounter a voice from the deep, father of the gods about to be reborn
(if I remember the movies well, this will happen in the third story),
and finally Hades. But Hades accuses Percy of stealing his helm, and
senses the lightning bolt which suddenly appears in Percy’s backpack.
It seems highly unlikely that Percy would actually be able to
leave the underworld as easily as he did, but the magical pearls
Poseidon’s servant gave him allows them to do so without harm. But on
the beach, the real enemy appears: Ares, who helped plan the imminent
war after he recovered the stolen bolt and helm from the real thief.
After a battle in which the ocean helps defeat Ares, Percy returns the
helm to Hades, then flies to New York to return the lightning bolt.
So the lackluster story, which seemed to take forever to
traverse the country, ends in a flight and Percy giving the lightning
bolt back, and the gods reluctantly backing down, but warning Percy to
be careful. The end seemed too sudden, though I was looking forward to
it as the end of the book.