The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson: The Olympians, Book One) by Rick Riordan
The Plot: Percy is at his umpteenth boarding school; basically, a school for troubled kids. Percy doesn't think of himself as troubled; he has dyslexia. And ADD. His home life -- don't even mention it. His Mom is great, but his stepdad is horrid. Yet it looks like he may have no option but to return home after he vaporizes his pre-algebra teacher. Yeah, you read right. Turns out things aren't quite what they seem.
The truth? Gods are real; at least, the Greek gods are real. Percy's dad, his real dad, happens to be a Greek god. Percy's powers are beginning to make themselves known, so he's off to Camp Half Blood. Full of kids who are just like him. For the first time, Percy feels like he belongs; like he's normal. Of course, nothing is ever as perfect as it seems.... And just who is his father, anyway?
The Good: Sometimes, going in, you have to ask yourself...what is the right way to read a book? I began this book just liking it, nothing more. It didn't click; I was reading it as "real," as "realistic fantasy." About a quarter of the way thru, it hit me that I was reading this wrong and it is Xena/Hercules storytelling, with touches of Bruce Campbell. Once I realized that, I went back, started reading again, and loved it.
A great book for both boys and girls; and while there is teen appeal, it's also good for those younger readers who are reading up.
Nicely cynical, in its way: The next few days I settled into a routine that felt almost normal, if you don't count the fact that I was getting lessons from satyrs, nymphs, and a centaur.
For booktalks, all you have to do is mention the heading title for chapter one: I accidentally vaporize my pre-algebra teacher.
One weakness for me was that the stepfather was so obnoxious, that I was thinking less and less of Mom for being around this person. (Long time readers know this is a pet peeve of mine; a nice person with an obnoxious jerk makes the nice person look less nice and more stupid.) But, it turns out that Riordan has a very good reason why Mom is with this abusive SOB; it's a nice way of using this "evil stepfather" storyline.
What else? This book has plenty: action, goofiness, friendship, buddy stuff, road trip. If the reader does know Greek mythology, they get extra out of it (they may catch onto a few things before Percy does; or laugh at a joke before him.) If they don't, they will want to after reading this, so make sure you have a few books on Greek mythology on hand.