The book is rich with Greek mythology. Of course, some people think this is good while others think it is bad. I loved it. My only problem was that I have not studied Greek mythology in so long that I had forgotten most of it. The book does explain most everything, so by the end of the book I remembered the main gods and goddesses pretty well. However, I decided to read the first book a second time before proceeding with the second book. I wanted to make sure I had not missed anything.
For instance, Percy has a dream early in the book about an eagle and a horse fighting. The eagle and horse represent Zeus and Poseidon, which I did not catch the first time I read the book. Since it helps greatly if one remembers the major points in Greek mythology, I decided to list some of the major gods and goddesses here.
Kronos—a Titan who overthrew his father and ruled during the Golden Age, later overthrown by his own sons, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades
Zeus—king of the gods, god of the sky and thunder, symbols are eagle and thunderbolt
Hera—queen of the gods, goddess of women and marriage, symbols are pomegranate and peacock feather
Poseidon—god of the sea, symbols are trident, fish, dolphin, and bull
Demeter—goddess of agriculture, symbols are torch and wheat
Hestia—goddess of the hearth, symbols are hearth and pig
Aphrodite—goddess of love and beauty, symbols are dolphin, rose, scallop shell, myrtle, dove, sparrow, and swan
Apollo—god of the sun, music, and poetry, symbols are lyre and snake
Ares—god of war, symbols are vulture, burning torch, and spear
Artemis—goddess of the hunt, symbols are bows and arrows
Athena—goddess of wisdom, warfare, and crafts, symbol is owl
Hephaestus—god of fire and the forge, symbols are hammer, anvil, and tongs
Hermes—messenger of the gods, symbols are caduceus, winged sandals, and tortoise
Hades—god of the Underworld
Tartarus—the darkest part of the Underworld, a place of torment
The book has really positive messages in it, particularly for children who have learning disabilities. Percy is dyslexic and has ADHD. On page 7, Percy reflects about Mr. Brunner's high expectations of him.
But Mr. Brunner expected me to be as good as everybody else, despite the fact that I have dyslexia and attention deficit disorder and I had never made above a C- in my life. No—he didn't expect me to be as good; he expected me to be better.I like that message.
On page 88, Annabeth tells Percy why his dyslexia and ADHD indicate that he is a half-blood.
"Taken together, it's almost a sure sign. The letters float off the page when you read, right? That's because your mind is hardwired for ancient Greek. And the ADHD—you're impulsive, can't sit still in the classroom. That's your battlefield reflexes. In a real fight, they'd keep you alive. As for the attention problems, that's because you see too much, Percy, not too little. Your senses are better than a regular mortal's. Of course the teachers want you medicated. Most of them are monsters. They don't want you seeing them for what they are."I like how Riordan takes learning disabilities and makes them into something positive. That is just great.
I cannot say enough times that I really enjoyed The Lightning Thief. Not only did it remind me a little bit of Harry Potter, but it also reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia, which wove many mythical characters into the plot. The Narnia books were childhood favorites of mine, so I cannot help liking Percy Jackson.