I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends -- one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena -- Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. (source)
I honestly don't know what took me so long to read this book. While it was published after I had passed the target age group, it's the start of a very popular series and the premise is right up my alley. I guess I just never had the proper motivation to start it. Well, my Resources for Young Adults course took care of that problem, and now I'm finally reading this series!
I liked this first book a good deal. Percy's a good enough protagonist - he's not without his faults, but he's a likeable kid and it's impossible not to root for him. His sidekicks, Grover and Annabeth, are also pretty great. This trio has not supplanted Harry, Ron, and Hermione in my heart, but they make a good group to read about. While I'm interested in mythology, I'm far from being an expert on it; however, my impression is that Riordan did a good job of adapting it to work with his story. Regardless, it's undeniable that this series has paved the way for middle grade readers to learn more about this fascinating topic.
However, much as I liked this book, it's not perfect. While I did enjoy reading it and I do think that it's cleverly done, it's not particularly well-written. That's not to say that it's poorly written, but at no point did I come across a sentence that took my breath away. Additionally, I found it to be fairly predictable. It wasn't hard to tell when trouble was afoot, and I figured out the big twist that's revealed at the very end fairly early on in the book, before Percy et al. had even left on their quest.
Overall, I think this is a good story. I enjoyed it, but I think that middle grade readers, especially those with an interest in fantasy, will like it even more. This is probably a good stepping stone to the Harry Potter series. The first books in that series aren't too scary, but the final ones are much darker and more mature, so parents might feel more comfortable starting with Percy Jackson (of course, this series could get darker as it goes on, but I won't know that until I finish it!). I don't think that the target age group will predict everything quite as easily as I have, and perhaps the twists will take young readers by surprise, even though they failed to do so with me. If you're a fan of the fantasy genre but are looking for a more innocent read, I think that this series would be a good place to start!