(audio) book review: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordon, narrated by Jesse Bernstein

fun adventure, but too much like Harry Potter and annoying narrator for the audiobook

So there’s an eleven year old boy who lives with a nasty step-dad named Mr. Dursley – sorry, it’s Smelly Gabe. He learns that he is special and goes to a special school – sorry, camp – where there is a kindly teacher who likes him, Dumbledore – sorry, Kairon, and a mean teacher who doesn’t, Snape – sorry, Mr. D. He then goes on a quest to save the world with a really smart girl named Hermione – sorry, Annabeth – and a goofy friend named Ron – sorry, Grover. Of course, no adults can help save the world. It’s just these crazy kids.

What’s different? Rather than the magic of Harry Potter, we learn that the Greek gods are alive and well, working behind the veil of human vision. We meet all kinds of major gods, minor gods, demigods, mythical monsters, and other characters. It got me excited about re-reading some of the Greek mythology that I enjoyed so much as a youth.

I wish Jim Dale – the superb narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks – had narrated these. Instead, Jesse Bernstein does his best eleven-year-old voice, aka annoying voice, and the accents are just bizarre (Zeus was my “favorite”).

This was a fun listen; it totally drew me in, despite (or maybe because of) the similarities to the little boy wizard. The gods and creatures really make the story, much more than the protagonists. It will be interesting to see that dynamic evolve over the next books.

Note on content: No sex, no strong language that I can remember (besides words like “stupid”), and the violence is pretty veiled.

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