Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan.
Hyperion Books for Children/Miramax Books: NY.
The Lightning Thief 2005
The Sea of Monsters 2006
The Titan's Curse 2007
The Battle of the Labyrinth 2008 - no review yet

The Lightning Thief: In the first book of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, Riordan tells a tale of Greek mythological characters roaming the modern U.S.-starting in New York City and traveling to Los Angeles. Imagine your ADHD being the result of your demigod status, unbeknownst to you! One crazy event after another happens as Percy meets more characters-especially once he learns who he is and accepts his quest. The characters and other mythological connections are well done and my favorite part of the story. The confrontations occur a little too often, but there are plenty of creative tidbits to keep readers hooked.

Percy's quest arises due to the fact that someone has stolen Zeus's master lightning bolt. He accuses Poseidon and gives him until the summer solstice to return it or prepare for World War III. Percy (short for Perseus) is appointed the task of reclaiming it. His advisers believe Hades is the culprit, so he must travel to the Underworld. Unfortunately, Zeus is not the only god missing an object of power, and matters become complicated.

Interestingly, the book reminds me of another story related to Zeus's stolen property, Thor's Wedding by Bruce Coville. Coville's story closely follows a Norse poem, Thrymskvitha. Riordan's does not.

All three of my sons (ages 9-16) read the book and immediately read the second book. They loved them.
related-Greek gods & mythology, monsters, family relationships, high interest/low reading level
RL=4th & up

The Sea of Monsters: Thalia, the tree that guards the border of Camp Half-blood, is stabbed with poison by a half-blood traitor. The barriers protecting the camp have broken down, and the camp will be overrun by monsters. It's decided the Golden Fleece is the only thing that can restore the camp, and Clarisse, daughter of Ares, is sent on the quest to steal it from the cyclops, Polyphemus. Percy has a new friend, Tyson, whom everyone else is treating as if he were a monster.

There is more discussion of the prophecy no one wants to reveal to Percy, and the overall plot unfolds a little more. The book is as quickly paced as the first. It may not make as much of an impression as the first, perhaps because the concept was new with the first. There is an intriguing, surprise ending and some funny references to historical figures.
related-Greek mythology, gods, monsters, cyclopses, Golden Fleece, family relationships, relatives, high interest
RL=4th & up

The Titan's Curse: In this 3rd book, Annabeth is kidnapped and the goddess Artemis hunts a monster and becomes trapped. Percy and the others are seeing premonitions in their dreams. Percy and friends save two new half-bloods, but one of the kids immediately becomes involved in the newest quest. There are odd things going on with the new kids. The quest is made up of errors by the participants, but there are some twists that help them to prevail.

This is possibly the most complex of the series so far with many twists in the plot-including an ending I did not guess. The mythological references come fast and furious. The gods play a bigger role in the quest itself since the consequences are increasing. I still may have liked the first book best overall; I think because it was a fresh idea. There are some memorable moments in this one, and it may be more developed psychologically. It is a great series for the age range it is written. Enjoyable for older kids also, but advanced readers may not be interested.
related-Greek mythology, monsters, gods & goddesses, manticore, friendship, family relationships, prophecy, high interest
RL=4th & up

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