Four years ago, I stumbled on Emily Rodda's Shadowland series, a juvenile fantasy series. I couldn't read them fast enough, and drove Jim crazy one weekend, when I went through four of them. I felt the same while reading Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief, the first in his Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. Riordan might just take J.K. Rowling's place, since her Harry Potter series is ending. Sixteen hundred showed up for Riordan in Austin, and I can understand why. The Lightning Thief has fascinating characters, a fast-paced plot, and I couldn't put it down.
Percy Jackson relates the story of the year he discovered he was a half-blood; half-mortal with a god for a father. He thought he was just a troubled kid with dyslexia and hyperactivity who couldn't stay in one school. Everything in his normal school life came to a head on a trip to a museum exhibit of Greek and Roman art, when his Pre-Algebra teacher turned into a monster. He kept the secret from his mother until they left his stepfather behind to go to the beach, and then had to flee from storms and monsters. Following a terrible fight with the Minotaur, Percy ends up finding shelter at Camp Half-Blood, a camp for other children of the gods.
Percy has a lot to learn. He discovers his history teacher in residence, his best friend is a satyr, and he finally learns his father's identity. Unfortunately, soon after discovering who he is, Percy is sent on a quest to stop a war between the gods. It means a journey to the Underworld, and a meeting with Hades.
Mythology, adventure, suspense, fantasy. It doesn't get much better than this.
I'm already on hold for the second in the series, Sea of Monsters, and the third is just recently out. I can't wait.
Rick Riordan's website is www.rickriordan.com
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Hyperion Books for Children, ©2005, ISBN 0-7868-5629-7 (hardcover), 375p.