The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

The only good thing about having a commute is listening to audio books to and from work. I’m loving it but I’m also going through books like crazy! Thankfully my friend Amanda added to my driving list when she recommended the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series. 

Why haven’t I read this series earlier!?

So for the unenlightened, as I was just mere weeks ago, The Lightning Thief is the first book in the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series. It tells the story of how our young hero, Percy Jackson, learns he is a Demi-god and sets out on his first quest to save his mother and search for Zeus’ master lightning bolt. I was hooked by the end of the second chapter! I love how Riordan fluidly mixes Ancient Greek mythology with a modern setting to provide a realistic story. He has a wonderful sense of humor that kept me chuckling and I enjoy his realistic characters. Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and even the Gods each have their own flaws.  This allows for relatable characters. Plus, Riordan utilizes myths that I didn’t even know know existed!

The Lightning Thief can get a little slow during the middle as Percy, Annabeth, and Grover make their way across the country. This section is full of essential character building and readers will experience Percy’s growth and self discovery. Some younger readers may find their focus wandering but I still suggest it for readers of all ages. Also, don’t let the movie deter you from reading this book. I enjoyed the movie though I knew it was nothing like the book and fell short of fans’ expectations. Just read the book because it is definitely better than the film.

All in all this is a great novel full of life lessons, hearty humor, and plenty of action. I can’t believe it took me so long to read The Lightning Thief but I’m definitely a fan! Expect to see the rest of the series, and probably most of Riordan’s books, in future Sand Between the Pages posts!

Lindsay

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The Cage

The Cage

by Megan Shepard

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The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

I REALLY wanted to read a young adult science fiction novel that was not dystopian or centered on an angsty love story. Yeah, I know. I can hear your laughs from here because such novels just don’t exist! Right?

Wrong! These books are out there and I now have a nice list from Facebook friends that I am eager to check out. Surprisingly, Goodreads recommended The Cage and I couldn’t say no to the premise. I mean, come on! A human zoo! Who could say no to that?!

I’m not going to provide a summary because the above synopsis does a pretty thorough job, so lets jump straight in to the review. I loved it! I couldn’t put The Cage down because, like Cora, I needed to know what was going on! My favorite character was Cassian, the alien Caretaker in charge of Cora’s habitat. I love how earnest he is to learn about human nature and I enjoyed the relationship that develops between him and Cora. Many readers have stated distaste at the alien/captive relationship because it just seemed weird. I had no problem with it because 1. it wasn’t a surprise as it is obviously stated in the book blurb (I have no earthly idea why they were shocked and disgusted. *eyeroll*) and 2. the connection between Cora and Cassian was far more tangible than the supposed relationship between her and Lucky.

Shepard is a master at world building. I was immersed in the habitats, tasting the odd food, and slowly going nuts as the same song blared repeatedly from the jukebox. Shepard also perfectly displays the effects of captivity on the human mind. Yes, the human teenagers are erratic. Yes, the insta-love/lust between them seems unrealistic. Yes, Cora’s almost psychotic drive to escape can be overwhelming. But, they are all realistic mental responses to imprisonment and experimentation. I can definitely see myself reacting in a similar fashion to Cora because there is no way I would be a willing test subject. A number of reviewers remarked on the annoyance of the character interactions, but I thought it was one of the more impressive aspects of the story construction. Annoying, but also shockingly realistic in my opinion.

Unfortunately, Cassian was the only fully developed character in The Cage, which was disappointing. Shepard created a vivid background for the captives but that depth did not encompass the six captives. I was hoping to have sympathy and compassion for each of them but they read two dimensional despite Shepard including chapters from each captive’s perspective. Even Cora was less developed than I hoped. She was all over the place and two plots points left me irritated with her.1. Her response to Lucky coming clean about their shared history contradicts what we learn about said history later in the story. I actually yelled ‘WHAT!?’ at my Nook. 2. Her dependency on her necklace was irksome as she wouldn’t have been allowed to wear in juvie and therefore would not have developed such a dependency on it. These two points decreased my connection with Cora and left me easily annoyed by her actions. I would have been more on her side if these two details were handled differently.

Dont let that deter you from The Cage. I stayed up late because I NEEDED to know how it ended and I was so darn wound up upon finishing that I had a difficult time falling asleep. I was left wanting, needing, to know more about Cassian and the Kindred and the fate of the captives. I will definitely be reading book two when it comes out next year! I wish I could provide more information on the story/plot but no spoilers! Read it and let me know what you think!

Lindsay

What to Expect: JULY

What To Expect: JULY

Well…it’s probably quite obvious by the number of reviews I posted in June that I’m STILL adjusting to my new day-shift schedule. UGH!! 13 hours of my day are dedicated to exercise, work, and my commute back and forth, which leaves far less reading time than I’m accustomed to. Thank the Lord for audiobooks! Guys, I haven’t even made it to the beach this summer! That should be considered a crime against humanity. (DEEP BREATH, DEEP BREATH) But, July is a brand new month and I have a new trusty planner to help me navigate this new schedule!

So what should you expect to see in July?! the same thing you should have seen in June!

1. A Time to Live by Jonas Lee

2. Akarnae by Lynette Noni

3. Identity Theft by Laura Lee

Don’t worry! The reviews will keep coming. I love doing this too much to throw in the towel! Happy reading this July and hopefully we’ll all find time to hit the beach and get a little sand between the pages!

Lindsay