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The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan




Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan

Book Trailer

Author Interview

About the Book

When troubled student Percy Jackson vaporizes his math teacher on a class field trip, he begins to suspect that his life is not what it seems. He discovers that his lifelong reading and attention troubles are all signs that he is a half-blood-a child of the Greek gods. After a summer training session with other demigods and Chiron the centaur, he sets off on a cross-country quest to Los Angeles (the entrance to Hades) with his friend Grover the faun and Annabeth, a child of Athena, to recover Zeus' lost thunderbolt and stop a war between the gods. Along the way, where modern life and mythology intersect to create both humor and excitement, Percy will come to know his father Poseidon, rescue his mother, and discover that he has what it takes to be a hero. Ultimately, Percy learns to trust his friends and his abilities and to choose love over despair.

About the Author

Rick Riordan knows his myths! For fifteen years he was an English and History middle-school teacher in both San Francisco and Texas. After writing many short stories and a series of award-winning mysteries for adults, he decided to try his hand at young adult fiction. Using a story he had originally told his son at bedtime, he brought together his love of Greek stories and his experiences working with students who have learning differences for an action-packed adventure series. This exciting story of a modern-day Greek hero has already been optioned for an upcoming movie. Rick Riordan now writes full time and lives with his wife and two sons in San Antonio, Texas.

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe what kind of student Percy Jackson is. What troubles does he have in school?
  2. What is Percy's relationship with his mother? Why does he think she has bad luck? 
  3. What does Percy discover about the Greek gods at Camp Half Blood? What do they have to do with the camp?
  4. Why is Percy more excited about his upcoming quest to the Underworld than scared? What other feelings does he have about his assignment?
  5. What clues do Percy and his friends have that all is not right with "Auntie Em?" Why do you think they overlook them?
  6. What does Percy's fight with Echidna reveal about his character? What new things does he discover about himself?
  7. The god, Ares, says he loves America. He calls it "the best place since Sparta." What does he mean? Do you agree with his assessment of America? Why? Why not?
  8. At the Lotus Casino, Percy realizes that unless he gets out quickly, he will "...stay here, happy forever, playing games forever, and soon I'd forget my mom, and my quest, and maybe my own name. I'd be playing virtual rifleman with groovy Disco Darrin forever." What critique is the author offering of modern life? Do you agree with it? 
  9. When describing the effects of Mist, Chiron says, "Remarkable, really, the lengths humans will go to fit things into their version of reality." How is this true in the novel? In Greek mythology?
  10. When Percy finally meets his father, Poseidon seems distant and hard to read. Percy says that he is actually glad about this. "If he'd tried to apologize, or told me he loved me, or even smiled-that would have felt fake. Like a human dad, making some lame excuse for not being around." Do you agree with Percy?
  11. How does the last line of the prophecy-you shall fail to save what matters most in the end-come true? What do you think of this ending? Did Percy make the right choice?
  12. Throughout the story, Percy is troubled by frightening dreams. In what ways do those dreams increase the tension in the story? Is their menace completely resolved by the end of the story?
  13. After her return from the quest, Annabeth resolves to try again to live with her father and her stepfamily. Do you think they will all get along better now? Why? Why not? What do you predict will happen?
  14. In the end of the book, do you sympathize at all with Luke's feelings of betrayal? Is there anything you can relate to about his point of view?
  15. Percy's learning difficulties become strengths in a different context. What seem to be attention problems allow him to be aware of all sides of attack during a battle. While he struggles to read English, he masters ancient Greek almost effortlessly. What skills are valued most in today's society? How might students who struggle today have been successful in a different moment in history?