The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan, Disney-Hyperion, 2005, 375 pp
When I found out that my twelve-year-old granddaughter was reading and liking this book, I decided to read it also so we could discuss. I liked it too. But it kept reminding me of Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
Percy Jackson, (the book is the first in a series called Percy Jackson and the Olympians) is the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman. He has problems (ADHD, a temper, a missing dad, a disgusting step-father) and he has been expelled from numerous private schools. Forget about public school.
The summer he goes to Camp Half-Blood, he learns for the first time who he really is and gets sent on a quest to recover the lightning bolt of Zeus. Non-stop action, lots of funny bits, kids having to figure out things for themselves; all make it an entertaining story and I can see why it has sold gazillions, also why reluctant readers and especially boys like it.
Riodan has cleverly combined all the elements. Camp Half-Blood is Percy's Hogwarts. He has his half-blood friends, each of whom has a Greek god or goddess for one parent. The quest. A boy wanting to please and get recognition from his absent father. Hell is entered through Los Angeles, Mt Olympus via a skyscraper in Manhattan. A Las Vegas amusement park/hotel is a locale where kids never want to leave and lose all track of time.
Despite all the "borrowing" this is a great way to introduce kids to mythology and is much more fun to read than The Golden Fleece.
(The Lightning Thief is available on the kid's sci-fi/fantasy shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)