Book of the Week - The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

When I went to the National Book Festival, the line for Rick Riordan was almost as long as the line for James Patterson and Grisham. So, I decided I had to check it out for myself. This book was obviously inspired by HP - instead of being about a boy with a past who can do odd things, turns out to be a wizard and goes to wizarding school, it's about a boy with a past who can do odd things, turns out to be a demigod and goes to demigod camp.

The parallels run right through the book - he has two friends; a bossy know-it-all girl and a whacky boy with low self-esteem, he has a bunch of eccentric but loveable teachers (including one who doesn't like him much), and he gets to be famous because of something he can't remember (the identity of his father). And there's a group of kids at the camp who are naturally mean (the children of Ares, God of War, as opposed to the Slytherins). Instead of platform 9 and 3/4, we have Floor 600 of the Empire State Building (a floor which supposedly doesn't exist). The world of the gods is right next to the world of the mortals, but the mortals don't notice. And so on and so forth.

BUT - and this is a significant but - it's still fun to read anyway. There are plenty of original elements to make up for the borrowed stuff, and the book has a light, fun tone which makes it a good-natured and enjoyable read. At one point there is an obviously deliberate nod to JKRowling - the hero comes across someone reading a book 'with a wizard on the cover', which appears to be thoroughly engrossing. So go ahead and read the book. It's fun, some of the jokes are laugh-out-loud funny, and the pacing is nicely brisk.

This book is an example of the fact that ideas which aren't 100% original can still be fun. Percy Jackson, isn't strikingly original but is still compulsively enjoyable reading.