Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reader's Diary #1086- Rick Riordan: The Lightning Thief

A few months back I wrote about Rick Riordan's first book in the 39 Clues series. I referred to it as "a little far fetched at times" and "like a Dan Brown novel for kids." Still, I was at least lukewarm towards it, enough so that I decided to give The Lightning Thief a go as my most recent read aloud with my daughter. Sadly, the issues I had with 39 Clues were pretty much the same this time around, only I'd also charge it with ripping off J. K. Rowling. Granted, that one may be a little unfair; according to at least this person, Riordan's book was actually written before Rowling's, though hers was published first and it's not like Rowling herself didn't lift the majority of her ideas from other sources. Still, the camp in The Lightning Thief felt like a lame take on Hogwarts, while the "Capture The Flag" game was like a lame take on Quidditch (this coming from a guy who thought Quidditch itself was pretty stupid).

Furthermore, I didn't really buy Percy Jackson. There were too many times it felt like an adult trying to pretend to be a teenager. Percy, for instance, mentions Muzak on at least a couple of occasions. While no doubt plenty of teens have heard it playing, I've never met one that uses that term, or that would even know it. It's possible, I suppose, but there were a few more such references that didn't register as authentic to me.

Then there's the whole Euro/American thing. While Riordan makes some quick lip service to Christians who might balk at the idea of Greek gods and therefore risk it being banned, I suppose, in the Bible belt, he's less apologetic to anyone not from western society, pretty much ignoring them, their folklore, and their religions. Perhaps, gods from Chinese mythology make an appearance in later books, but I think I'm already done.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

You did give the series a fighting chance. It's a shame it didn't improve with this new book.

I wonder if a book about the history of Muzak might be a good one to read with the youngsters next?

John Mutford said...

Barbara: Just to clarify, Lightning Thief and 39 Clues aren't part of the same series. I'd be more inclined to give up on the Percy Jackson series than 39 Clues, at least the latter has different authors.

Maybe we'll just by the audiobook of the history of Muzak. We'll just have it softly playing in the background, like a vaguely familiar but completely sterile version of the real book.

Lee-Anne said...

Luckily my daughters are able to read these books on their own. I happily buy them even though after valiant effort I just had to stop reading after the third book. (I never criticised them to the girls - just told them I had so many other books calling my name). The writing was just so *bad*! I consider them a gateway drug to the Classics. They are able to discuss the finer points of Greek and Egyptian mythology with me and the elder has moved on to Homer et al as a result, so all is forgiven. Luckily their dad is able to stomach them so I leave them to have rousing debates about Riordan's versions. I think it's a fabulous idea for kids and he's obviously tapped into something that appeals to the kids but I can't find anything good to say about his writing. I was forced to sit through an entire audiobook of the first in the Egyptian series and it was squirm-inducingly bad. My advice is to wait until your kids are old enough to read them on their own.

John Mutford said...

Lee-Anne: My daughter is actually capable of reading them on her own (but we still read together anyway), and I think, should she want to hear the remainder of the series, she'll have to take it on herself. But no, as far as she's concerned I enjoyed it-- not, of course that we can't talk about why we enjoy or don't enjoy books, but like your girls I sensed she was was fine with it and didn't want to rain on her parade, so to speak.