I've been hearing about this series for at least two years, but I've avoided it because for a long time I didn't think I would like the Greek mythology and middle grade isn't a genre I love. Those two reasons combined were more than enough for me to steer clear of it forever. If a friend of mine hadn't nudged me to finally pick it up, I probably never would have. But there's a movie adaptation already out with the sequel on the way and obviously the Percy Jackson books are pretty popular, so I figured there was no harm in giving it a try. I went into it expecting to be mildly amused, but it was actually a lot more engrossing than I expected it to be.
The best thing about the Lightning Thief is probably the pacing. Riordan does a really good job in making sure that something interesting is always happening. It immediately opens up with Percy talking about half-bloods, so I dove right into the thick of things without preamble. Sometimes that's not the best way to start a book because things can get confusing if there's not enough information presented, but thankfully this was pretty easy to follow (let's face it, there are a lot of Greek gods and I was worried about confusing their names and what their main powers were) and I learned everything in a timely manner that didn't feel like an annoying info-dump. Percy and his friends are always getting into some kind of trouble, but the action never really became tedious because it wasn't one of those books where the same situations play out under slightly different circumstances. The plot moves steadily along, and I was quite interested in getting to the end.
I've always kind of liked it when there's an ominous prophecy in the beginning of the story. It doesn't happen too often, but when it does I enjoy matching the events that occur to the predictions. One of them was that Percy was going to be betrayed by someone he called a friend. I guessed pretty easily in advance who it was, but honestly the predictability of that didn't bother me too much. As for Percy himself, he was a pretty charming protagonist. I enjoyed his sense of humor and how he seemed to have a really kind disposition (but, you know, could kick butt when he wanted to). I particularly liked how he was close with his mother, because it seems like in every other book I read the parents just fade into the background and aren't really that important in the mind of the main character. Grover was also good for a laugh - I've never read about a satyr before, so that was different.
Annabeth was cool. I loved how brave she was, and yet still freaked out really badly when swarmed by a bunch of spiders. It was kind of funny how she was mean to Percy in the beginning and tried to explain that she was that way because their god parents didn't get along, and Percy kept saying that didn't mean the two of them couldn't. He's only twelve in this book, but perhaps later on a romance will develop between the two? Riordan also painted a pretty vivid setting - camp Half-Blood was clear in my mind and I enjoyed picturing a place where campers, centaurs and satyrs (not to mention the occasional monster) run around altogether. I'm really glad I read this, and I'm pretty excited to read the rest of the books in the series. I've heard pretty negative things about the movie, but the trailer looked decent to me and I'll definitely watch it at some point.