Trouble seems to follow 12-year-old Percy Jackson. He finally learns why after his pre-algebra teacher morphs into a monster and tries to kill him, and his mother reveals a dangerous secret: Percy is actually a demigod, the son of one of the Greek gods of Olympus. The Lightning Thief immerses readers in a thrilling world of gods and monsters, delivering adventure, mystery and characters as epic as the mythology it draws from. In Percy, Rick Riordan introduces a hero for kids who’ve had to stand up to bullies or struggled in school—his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia are an extension of his demigod powers. Percy learns to put his guard up; in his world, the nice lady by the road might actually be Medusa. At its core, the 2005 novel is about learning to navigate a reality where authority figures, be they parents, gods, or both, cannot always be trusted. With a creative premise and smart writing, The Lightning Thief went on to launch four sequels, four spin-off sequel series, an extended universe, two movies and an upcoming television show on Disney+. —Madeleine Carlisle

Buy Now: The Lightning Thief on Bookshop | Amazon

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at