Two years ago I reviewed the disaster of a movie that was The Lightning Thief, the first adventure of the demigod Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon. Feel free to ask for a translation of that entry, as it is in Spanish. I didn't like the movie as a take on Greek mythology (Hollywood, when are you going to leave it alone?) and now that I've read the first book, partly due to suggestions and good reviews on Goodreads, I like it even less.
The book begins with Percy Jackson, age 12, getting in trouble at his boarding school. Not your regular teenage trouble: more like fighting a fury, being able to control water and getting the class bully soaked, and those kind of things. It turns out that Percy is actually the son of the Greek god Poseidon and his life in in danger because, being a demigod, all sorts of monsters are trying to kill him. Not only that, he discovers that he's been framed for the theft of Zeus's most powerful weapon: his lightning. In order to avoid a war between the Olympians, which would cause great destruction, he journeys to the Underworld and ask Hades, god of death and apparently the one who actually stole the lighning, to return it.
Having already seen the movie, I thought most of the action would not surprise me. Ah, if I had an euro for every time I'm wrong I'd be rich by now! As I got through the novel I noticed how much they had changed and left out in the movie adaptation. It actually makes sense now! We get a decent explaination of why Zeus, Poseidon and Hades don't have children, why all demigods, Olympus, and Hades are now in the US instead of Europe, what exactly is the summer camp Percy is sent to and why...
The main characters, on a superficial level, obviously remind you of those in Harry Potter: Percy would be an equivalent of Harry (clueless of what is going on around him but the hero at the end of the day), Annabeth is very similar to Hermione (a brainy girl, although in Annabeth's case this is justified by the fact that she's Athena's daughter), Grover reminds a lot of Ron (best friend of the hero, not the bravest of guys but tries very hard and finds courage in extreme situations). However, I like how the author draws their personalities and makes them a ton of fun to read.
The secondary characters are also interesting: I like the portrayal of the gods such as Ares, now a biker, Dyonisus under the disguise of the very pissed-off and forced abstainer camp director Mr. D, Quiron as a mentor who knows more than it appears, the other demigods, even Smelly Gabe is well, Percy's stepfather, is well defined. And the reasons why the characters act like they do make sense once we know what's going on in their heads.
The whole mythology things I complained about in the movie review are now clear: not only Zeus stops having children, but also Poseidon and Hades, because they made an oath after their children caused World War II (I must say that I have mixed feelings about the author making Hitler a son of Hades). The fact that now Olympus and the Underworld are in the USA is made clear by saying that Western culture is now dominated by them. Ok, we're buying. The image of the Underworld is not like Chistian hell (yay!) and I like it that it is explained that all dead people see what they believed hell would be like. The author knows the myths and adapts them to modern-day culture in a way that makes sense and is not completely offensive, while it is a bit too American for my taste. Why do those kids eat so many burgers and fries?
I'm looking forward to reading the next four books, especially now that a second movie, based on the second book (Sea of Monsters) has been released. And I'll watch it, yes, because the masochist in me was fooled by the trailer, especially seeing how they included stuff and characters from the first book in it: