Monday, September 27, 2010

RIP Read #10 and RIP Film #2: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

I'm finding it impossible to think of any other way to write this post than as a big fat rant.  I'm sure any of you that have read the book and seen the film will agree.  Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief, first book in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, is smart and fun and a great read.  The film is complete crap.

If you aren't familiar with the series, Percy Jackson is a boy who has had trouble all his life with a learning disorder, a loser of a stepfather and just general problems of not fitting in.  One day, when a teacher turns on him and reveals herself to be a monster, Percy's life is changed forever.  He begins a quest to find his true nature and to reestablish peace between gods that he thought never existed.  This is a great series for introducing kids to Greek mythology and for showing them how their weaknesses may actually be strengths.  There are a wide variety of strong characters and some smart action.  I enjoyed the way the story unfolded and I'm sure I will be continuing with this series and even picking up Riordan's new Egyptian mythology series as well.

The writers of the screenplay for the Percy Jackson film apparently didn't enjoy the book as much as I did, though, because they decided to change almost every single thing in it.  A wonderful scene when Percy fights the dastardly teacher with the help of an unlikely weapon?  Gone.  A rival at the camp he attends that inadvertently gives him the clue to his heritage?  Not in this film.  A god whose actions were the basis for the entire book?  Not there either.  Almost every character was changed in the film and not a single one for the better.  Percy was more of an ass and his friends, instead of being unique individuals, became boring and stereotypical.  Almost every scene in the book was changed or deleted and the kids used their swords instead of their brains.  For anyone who thought that the minor changes to the Harry Potter films were inexcusable, you wouldn't be able to stomach this for even the first few minutes.  If I hadn't been planning to post about this film, I would have turned it off then as well.

Verdict: Grab this book if you're at all interested in the premise.  You might be pleasantly surprised at how engaging it is.  And, for the love of Zeus, avoid the movie.  I don't think I would have even liked it much if I hadn't read the book.

(And if you're wondering, I'm counting this as an RIP read due to an awesome trip to the underworld, a good deal of peril and a few encounters with some truly frightening creatures.)

Petitioning for a "very loosely-based on" label,

Support our site and buy The Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: Lightning Thief Deluxe Edition on Amazon or find it at your local library.  We borrowed our copy from the library but will probably buy the set for Z's shelves.


  1. I have read the book, but I still haven't seen the movie. I probably should, but for whatever reason I am not in a bit rush...

  2. Or an "inspired by" label. I always think those are funny AND they tell me exactly what to expect. :p

    Your objections have been noted. Even if I read these books I will never ever ever see the film. Down with lame film adaptations! *goes away to watch The Princess Bride again*

  3. I could not agree more! This really is a wonderful series of books (I've read them all). We can only hope the they stop at one movie! Definitely pick up The Red Pyramid -- it is an equally enjoyable story about a brother and sister who harness their newly discovered magical powers to defeat a rogue Egyptian god who is plotting to destroy North America. Stop buy for a sneak peek.

  4. I was wondering how this was a RIP read! : )

    And I imagine the film version would be crap ... they almost always are!

  5. I'm sooo glad to hear it! The book has been sitting on my shelves for a while, but meanwhile I saw the movie and was completely put off!

    I'm glad to know the book is much better!

  6. I enjoyed this book as well. I read it to see if my seven year old would enjoy it. The reading level is fine but I haven't decided if the Greek Mythology will go over his head. I was looking forward to seeing the movie but based on your review, I think I'll pass. From the previews I saw, it seems like they made Percy older in the movie as well.

  7. Kailana - It's one of those things that you have to see if just to complain about. ;)

    Jenny - It was really, really awful from the first scene forward.

    Jen - I think they have to stop at one movie since they changed the plot so much that some of the continuation purpose is gone!

    Jenners - I like to be loose in my RIP interpretation but I think Hades counts!

    Alexandra - I'm sorry you saw the film first. ;) That's what finally inspired me to grab the book. I didn't want to see the film first.

    Kristi - I think it might be a bit old for him too. But I think it will be a great series to keep on the shelves for later!