Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Published by Puffin

THE work of Rick Riordan, particularly the two series of novels starting with The Olympians that followed the youth and adventures of lovable hero Percy Jackson shaped the childhoods of many.

I would read each instalment in days and marvel in the comfort of this shared passion for these stories with friends and now, 17 years after its original publication, a Disney+ series is in the making.

Riordan’s stories are of course a compelling and witty foundation for a love of realism for many in the form of the clever adaptation of the gods and monsters of Greek mythology with modern settings and characters, but beyond that is a constant and genuine lesson to embrace difference in others and yourself.

Percy Jackson has always struggled with school, especially having ADHD and dyslexia it seems nothing is built for him to excel, despite the efforts of best friend Grover Underwood.

When attacked on a school trip by a monster disguised as a teacher the truth of his origins and his future begin to unravel. He’s brought to Camp Half-Blood where he learns that his biological father – once a mystery to him – was Poseidon Greek god of the Ocean and from this half of his lineage he has as yet untapped powers over water.

In training he meets all those like him, those half mortal with one godly parent and learns all they have in common, that their eyes were not meant to read modern languages and their focus not for traditional lessons. In this moment of connection and peace Riordan embeds a truth beyond magic, that disability is only counted as such because those living with it are in a world not built to meet their needs, that uniqueness does not exclude you from heroism, but can make you more suited to it.

Percy’s new life, however, is not all friendship and community. The life of a young demigod is filled with danger and potential threat from beasts they once saw only as myth.

He discovers he stands accused of a serious crime concerning the Gods he knows nothing of, stealing the famed lightning bolt belonging to Zeus, the leader of the Gods. With the help of his new friend Annabeth, the quick and cunning daughter of Athena, and old friend Grover – who he has discovered is a Satyr (part human and part goat), he must clear his name and learn the truth.

At the heart of this daring mission is the development unforgettable characters and relationships that build over the course of the series. Sometimes in the recounting of Greek myths there is a focus on plot above character, yet while valuable lessons are to be found here there is a deep and lasting exploration into Percy’s motivations, desires and fears. He’s the kind of character children want to look up to, that you would want your children to look up to as a young man who grows to value his own strengths and loves and protects his friends and family fiercely.