I'm not an expert on contemporary children's fantasy. I haven't read Fablehaven or more than the first volume of Harry Potter *gasp*. Neal wanted to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: The Lightning Thief and I'd heard good things from other moms that I trust so I ordered the set from the Scholastic book order last month (I can still buy books for the kids).
Neal was loving it and he was begging me to read it too so while he was away for a night at camp, I decided to read it. And I really enjoyed it.
Other than the fact that the Greek gods were and apparently continue to be very immoral, thus producing the demigods that make up the story, the book is good and fun. My children and I have had to have a few discussions about the mythology. First, the gods aren't real. They get that. And second, they do bad things all the time. Their example should not be followed. I really really hope they get that.
Struggling with dyslexia and ADHD, Percy Jackson finds that these are actually attributes and strengths for heroes. Perhaps this will inspire real children to realize they have amazing potential to do great things in spite of their struggles with learning disabilities. Not only that, Percy discovers that he is the son of Poseidon and is sent on a quest to find Zeus's missing/stolen lightning bolt and thus prevent World War III. He has help from a couple of good friends and meets a lot of interesting monsters and gods along the way.
My son and I have enjoyed learning more about Greek mythology and we're both glad that I also purchased a guide to help us. I seriously need to brush up on it. Even though I enjoyed the book, I doubt I'll personally read the next four volumes. However, Neal had his light on extra late tonight and I predict he breezes through the rest in the next few weeks. He is a true fan.