Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief
Okay, so technically children's literature. And theoretically, junk lit at that. But honestly? I cannot tell you how much I love it, and for many, many reasons.
Percy Jackson is a 'disturbed' child. He's dyslexic with ADHD, and bounces from school to school, being expelled from each in turn. This year, he's enrolled in Yancy Academy, where he actually has a good friend - Grover - and a teacher - Mr Brunner - who actually believes in him! It's amazing! He's not doing terribly well, academically, but at least he's going to be able to finish out the year before he's expelled.
His mother loves him to pieces. His stepfather is... well, he'd fit right into any number of old-school children's books about kids with crappy parents. And then, his life changes. His best friend isn't actually human, and for that matter, neither is HE, really. The Greek Gods? They do exist. And no, they still can't keep it in their pants, though Zeus has been better about it than his historical average.
The book sends three sixth-graders (or sixth-grade-equivalents) on a quest to the underworld. Along the way, they meet The Furies, Medusa, a Chimera, Ares, Hades, and more. It's actually really well done - I brought Mad Natter into this book hoping it would catch his interest - but he's had no prior exposure to Greek Mythology. After the first book, we had to race out to get the second, and he can give me basic synopses of Poseidon, Zeus, Athena, Ares, Hades, and Dionysus with very little difficulty, including at least one thing each god represents, and half of them, their symbols as well. It's not a particularly challenging read - neither for Mad Natter nor for me - but it was fantastic. We had a great time, and it was the first time Mad Natter brought me a book that was anywhere near his reading level, and asked if we could sit and read it together.
As far as adult-consumption, it's not as formulaic as one might expect from children's serial novels, and it actually does a good job of providing an introduction to the basics of Greek Mythology - while dropping it all in as background knowledge for an actually truly entertaining read. It's not terribly quick, at 375 pages, but it is engaging and fun. It was worth the time spent reading it - both for Mad Natter *and* for me!
How about you? Have you read The Lightning Thief? What did you think? What about other kids' lit titles? Have you read any good ones lately?