The Lightning Thief illustrated edition brings the first book in the Percy Jackson saga to life in a way it has never been seen before.
Giving treasured books the illustrated edition treatment is a growing trend I can get behind. It has been done most successfully with the Harry Potter series, and now we can look forward to the same thing with Rick Riordan’s most beloved works to date.
While we’ve seen Percy Jackson interpreted in a multitude of ways — the ill-begotten movies, the graphic novels, and even both official and fan-made art — there’s something special about seeing John Rocco take on a larger role in telling this story.
As fans of the series know, Rocco has been a part of Percy’s journey for 13 years now, and has designed three different sets of covers for the first five books, the first being the classic Percy Jackson covers, the second being the covers created from a single painting, and the third being these illustrated edition covers.
Each one has brought something unique to the table and has re-imagined the story in a multitude of ways while continuing to be truthful to the source material. It is no wonder, then, that Riordan and Rocco’s partnership has lasted as long as it has, or has expanded into the author’s other works, such as the Kane Chronicles and the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.
Thankfully, Rocco is now able to stretch his artistic talent further than just the incredible cover. With full-cover artwork on nearly every page, it’s not hard to read The Lightning Thief again — for probably the twentieth time — and feel like you’re seeing it in a whole new light.
The illustrated edition is a coffee table-sized book, which means it’s a bit heftier than the original novel. But this lends itself for sharing amongst friends and family members or putting it out on display. It cannot be understated that the large hardcover installment is a sight to behold.
Aside from the story we all know and love, the Lightning Thief illustrated edition features more than just artwork throughout; it also provides atmosphere. Even on pages where there aren’t as many drawings, you’ll find drops of water splashed across the text to remind you Percy is fighting a Minotaur in the rain. Even subtle colors and textures found in the background on pages without any art whatsoever help set the mood.
What’s best yet is that this edition of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief continues to serve the purpose Riordan set out when he first wrote this story down. By now we all know the tale of how he created the Percy Jackson universe for his son, who struggled with ADHD. It explains the fast pace and the hilarious jokes on nearly every page.
The illustrated edition lends itself to keeping your attention. When you see a girl being flung across the page by a stream of toilet water, you can’t help but want to read on.
As an added bonus, for those of you like me who loves maps of their favorite fictional worlds, you’ll find an illustrated version of both Camp Half-Blood and the United States on the front and back endpapers. The former labels each of the main areas of Camp Half-Blood, while the latter shows you an approximation of each place where Percy had to travel on his quest.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is a fascinating story that has been enjoyed by millions of readers all around the world, but the illustrated edition somehow brings a new magic to even the oldest of fans. Whether you choose to keep this as a part of your collection, or use it to bring someone new into the fold, I truly hope you enjoy seeing yet another incredible incarnation of Percy come to life.