For some, the number 13 is a sign of bad luck. For others, it’s the age they were when they embarked on their first quest to save the world.
For us, it’s a reason to celebrate!
We couldn’t be more excited to announce that The Lightning Thief recently hit its 13th year on the New York Times best-seller list. To commemorate this incredible milestone, we’re listing 13 things we love about the book that started it all.
1. First and Most Important, The Characters
Percy, Annabeth, Grover, Sally, Poseidon, Luke, Clarisse, Chiron, Mr. D . . . we could go on and on. Whether they be god, demigod, or mortal, each character introduced in The Lightning Thief shines with a unique and memorable personality. And we were instantly invested in following their stories through to the very end. (With the exception of Gabe Ugliano, of course.)
2. The Trailblazing Representation of Neurodiversity
At the time of its initial publication, The Lightning Thief broke new ground with its realistic portrayal of neurodiversity. People with ADHD and dyslexia were rarely, if ever, lead characters in middle-grade fiction. And Percy realizing that what he once considered disabilities were actually signs of his demigod heritage helped thousands of young readers around the world overcome stigmas and embrace their own inner strength.
3. The Relatability of the Narrative
As a piece of middle grade fiction, The Lightning Thief stands out as a title that never speaks down to younger readers. The Percy Jackson series respects the intelligence of its audience and understands the unique struggles of tweens and young teenagers. Especially in the book’s nuanced and authentic portrayal of the relationship between kids and their parents. Just with more superpowers and magical swords.
4. The Introduction to Real-World Mythology
Many books promise that they’ll “make learning fun,” but few deliver a unique blend of real-world mythology and fast-paced action adventure like The Lightning Thief. The titles in the Percy Jackson series (as well as the Heroes of Olympus, Trials of Apollo, Kane Chronicles, and Magnus Chase series) have inspired readers of all ages and experiences to further explore classic mythology. Today, the books in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint continue this legacy by introducing other myth-based stories from around the world.
5. The Unforgettable Covers
They say never judge a book by its cover, but in the case of The Lightning Thief, how could you not? No matter which edition you own, The Lightning Thief is sure to stand out on your bookshelf. Between the original John Rocco paintings, or his reconceived ones, and the newer Victo Ngai designs, the real question isn’t Which cover is the best? but Why haven’t you collected them all?
6. The Humor
Percy’s sassy comebacks, his hilarious banter with Annabeth and Grover, and the unexpected but totally believable reinterpretations of Greek gods and monsters . . . Rick’s Percy Jackson series has always stood out due to his ability to inject contemporary humor into the hero’s journey and ancient myths. Just don’t tell the gods we‘re laughing at them . . .
7. The Action and Adventure
Don’t pretend you never daydreamed about your pen transforming into Riptide while you were taking a test. Or that you didn’t spend a good chunk of time speculating about your godly parent and which amazing demigod powers you possess. The Lightning Thief sparked our imaginations, and many readers have dreamed of spending the summer at Camp Half-Blood or embarking on their own epic quests. As long as we ignore the near-death experiences, tragic betrayals, and hopeless odds against foes much more powerful than us. If anything, those elements just make us all the more excited to dive back into the world of The Lightning Thief time and time again.
8. The Locations
From New York City to Malibu Beach, with plenty of stops along the way, The Lightning Thief presents readers with an epic, mostly unsupervised road trip across the United States. This first title in the Percy Jackson series establishes the recurring theme of Greek gods and monsters hiding just beneath the surface of our modern-day facades. And to this day, Percy Jackson fans still plan their own cross-country trips to retrace the steps taken in the first book. Let us know if any of you have finally uncovered the exact location of Aunty Em’s Gnome Emporium!
9. The Bad Guys
The Minotaur, the Furies, Medusa, and one very angry god of war, just to name a few. Obviously, we were never rooting for these folks. But it was so fun and exciting to see these ancient creatures and villains roaming around in the 21st century. These baddies also provided the opportunity for Percy, Annabeth, and Grover to overcome their challenges and rise to the occasion, proving themselves as heroes destined for greatness.
10. The Cliffhanger
Wait, that person was the lightning thief this whole time?! Trust us, after that twist ending, we were dying to discover what would happen next. Only those who have been here since the very beginning just how agonizing it was to wait for a resolution. But hey, that’s how you keep an avid base of dedicated readers coming back for more!
11. The Power of the Fandom
Since the mid-2000s, the Percy Jackson fandom has proven to be one of the most supportive, passionate, and loyal groups of individuals brought together by their shared love of old Seaweed Brain. Their love is instantly apparent from the scores of message boards, podcasts, fan servers, and social media profiles dedicated to sharing artwork, podcasts, and speculation about each new installment in the extended Percy Jackson universe. To say nothing of the amazing fans who take the time out and travel long distances to show up for each of Rick’s book tours.
And of course, we would be remiss not to mention all the intense shipping wars that started after the release of The Lightning Thief, but unfortunately, we’re, uh, running out of space to talk about that. . .
12. Everything That Came After
Following The Lightning Thief came four more equally incredible books in the Percy Jackson series. A follow-up series, the Heroes of Olympus, brought us another epic story told across five books. The demigod adventures continued in the Trials of Apollo. And recently, in The Sun and the Star. And of course, we must give love to the Kane Chronicles and the Magnus Chase trilogy. Oh, and all those short story collections, such as The Demigod Files, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, and Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes.
The Lightning Thief was Rick’s first foray into a massive world of interconnected stories that continues to this day.
13. The Future
And speaking of continuations, the most recent reason why The Lightning Thief remains a best-seller after 13 years? Maybe it has something to do with the brand-new installment in this series hitting shelves in September! But you’ve already preordered your copy of Percy Jackson and the Chalice of the Gods, right? It’s Rick’s reward to the fans for being patient in awaiting the premiere of the eight-episode live-action Percy Jackson and the Olympians series on Disney+, cowritten and executive produced by the man himself!
What are your favorite memories from The Lightning Thief? Be sure to let us know!