My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
We have an inside joke in my family. When my husband and I sang the Ave Maria at his sister's wedding, one of his mother's friends pronounced (in a broad British accent), "It was nice, Michael, but you're no Pavarotti!" Rick Riordan has written a good novel, but he's no JK Rowling.
I read this book with my 7-year-old son, who loved it. He's now got a Greek mythology obsession and for a time (before getting turned onto Star Wars--my head is spinning!), he wanted to be Zeus for Halloween.
This book has so many things in common with Harry Potter and other fantasy novels that it's hard not to compare them--some have even called it the American Harry Potter. It's written in a much more simplistic way, probably more to appeal to kids than adults and children (like Rowling seemed to target).
I love the fact that Riordan's hero has ADHD and dyslexia, and that his friends all seemed to face their own challenges. Taking Greek mythology and weaving it into a modern-day story is a genius idea.
My biggest beef with the book was in the beginning, when Percy's mom dies (or disintegrates). Either Riordan has never had to grieve the death of someone he loved, or he just simply didn't know how to handle the issue in a middle-grades book. Percy hardly grieved her death AT ALL. By the end of the day, he was actually blase about it. As a mom of boys, this offended me!
Even with that weakness and its inability to compel me the way the Harry Potter series does, it was a fun read and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.