In some ways I’m sorry that I read this book now when I was so distracted because it was a good book and a solid ending to an entertaining series. It took me a month to get read it not because I wasn’t enjoying it but that I just had trouble concentrating long enough to get what I was reading. I’ve talked about my struggle to read while self isolating. I’ve been doing some thinking and realized that maybe it’s not just that I’ve had hard time concentrating during this time but I also have a hard time concentrating on reading on home. In the before time, I did most of my reading during my commutes to and from work. I would read at home but usually no more than a chapter or two right before bed. For me to read as many books as I did before, I have to change my reading habits on a whole to do it. This kind of makes me feel better. Also I have to remind myself that I need to stop holding myself to the standards of life before the pandemic because we are not living in the world anymore and may never again. So enough about that. Let’s talk about this book.
We we last ended our heroes, they have to race across the country to get to wish point before Genno, who has all the pieces of the scroll summons the Dragon and gets his wish. Unknown to Yumeko, Tatsumi and gang there is another person out there that has been pulling the strings and the task ahead of them is much tougher than they thought. Yumeko continues to shine with her brave spirit and kind heart. Despite the risk she always did what she could to protect her friends and complete strangers. This strength is ultimately what gets her and her friends through all the trials along the way. The ending was admittingly heartbreaking but powerful and maybe the most realistic way to end. Which is kind of funny when you think about because Yumeko is a kitsune, Tatsumi is sharing his body with a Demon and they are trying to stop the bad guy from summoning a Dragon to get a wish. If you are looking for a good fantasy novel based on mythology but want something not based on western stories, this is a good series to check out. The rich Japanese folktales that fill this series really gives it a lush setting that works so well with the fantasy it created.
So I’m an idiot. There are a couple of new books that have some out in the last week or so that I’ve been waiting for. I got a notice from one of my credit cards that I earned enough points for a gift card so I was waiting for the card in the mail. However, if I read it more closely I would have known that they sent me the GC in the email letting me know about the GC. Self isolating has not improved my comprehension skills. Anyway, this book seems like the perfect book for me to read right now. It’s loosely based on some Japanese mythology. There’s a kitsune, samurai’s and dragons. Besides, a power hungry crazy lunatic raising a dragon to take over the world, it is nothing like our current reality. I think this is just the book to get me out of my book funk!
I think what I like about this series is how Rick Riordan really explores how messed up some of these myths are. The things that the Gods do are just really unjustifiable and forces Apollo to face them as a human. For the last four books, Apollo has been living as Lester and all of his fragile human failings. For the first time, he has really mourned the death of a human for the first time. Jason’s death still shocks me because in these type of books, the heroes never die. They always find some way to live, particularly in Rick’s world where he has found some pretty creative loop holes to keep his demigods alive. Kudos for him for bucking his own trend. It’s still sad nonetheless. Jason’s death hangs over all of them, particularly those at Camp Jupiter. Frank, Hazel and Reina are already reeling from the previous battle and now they have to move on without Jason and his leadership. Apollo is grieving and has to face his own mortality. Two of the three Emperor’s are planning on attacking Camp Jupiter, with the last king of Rome. To survive he must come to grips of with some of the worst things he did as a God and the people he hurt along the way. It’s truly touching to see Apollo face his humanity and learn from his mistakes. He knows he can’t change what happened but he’s learning he can be a better person and be better God. There is one book left and I can’t wait to see what is in store for him and Meg. Not to mention, with them going back to New York, means that I’m sure we are going to get another Percy cameo. Yes!
I’m going to do a double review for these two books because they are both published under Rick Riordan Presents publishing tent and I read them back to back. Like Rick Riordan’s work, they both are children’s books that are based in Mythology. So why didn’t Rick write them? Well, I think he learned from his Kane Chronicles that you can do all the research you can on culture and mythology you are not a part of or familiar with it’s going to come out a bit messy. Not to say that the Kane Chronicles was a bad series. I think for many of his readers, it was their first introduction into Egyptian mythology so they were not aware of any errors but I could tell that Rick was comfortable and the flow of his writing wasn’t as crisp. So Rick decided he was going to use his platform and start his own imprint and publish Authors of color tell their own stories and mythologies. This is how you ally. Use your resources to uplift marginalize voices and give them a platform to speak.
Both Aru Shah and the End of Times and The Storm Runner follow the same formula that Rick uses in his Greek stories. Introduces the Demigod, send them on a world saving quest that requires them to complete smaller quests along the way to help them be successful, while interacting with other mythological characters or using the myths they grew up hearing to help them get out of trouble. Here I was taken through various Indian and Mayan myths and it was enjoyable. I do admit I enjoyed Aru Shah a lot better then The Storm Runner. Aru lives in Atlanta with her Mom and goes to a elite prep school. Aru is a liar. Well, she has a huge imagination. She often tells her fell kids at schools lies about her life to make her life seem more exciting and things start to go south when a few them catch her in her lies. Technically, Aru isn’t a demigod but the reincarnation of one of Indian mythologies greatest heroes. With the help of Mini, who is also a reincarnation of Aru’s brother hero, are able to save the day. What I liked about this book is that Aru is not the perfect girl. She’s a liar and definitely a troublemaker. She doesn’t have a lot of friends because she feels like an outsider and bullied. Both girls have had trouble making friends and opening up to each other isn’t easy but they do and it’s what allows them to succeed. I love who it really plays up their friendship and the importance of female friendships. Not to mention, Aru is a hoot. I laughed all the way through this book.
Maybe one of the reasons I liked Aru better is that I have some familiarity with Indian Mythology. I know nothing about Mayan. So I was going into this book fresh and learned quite a lot. Did you know the Mayan’s have a Goddess for Chocolate? That is awesome. The Storm Runner follows Zane who lives in New Mexico with his Mother and Uncle, next to a volcano. Who knew there were volcanoes in New Mexico? One night, a plane crashes into his volcano and then Zane meets Brooks, who he calls the most beautiful girl he has ever meant and boom we are off and running. Zane releases Ah-Puch, the God of the Death among of other things and well now he’s in trouble. Only he can kill him and do it before the other Mayan Gods find him and well kill him too because Gods are not supposed to have children because they see this as an imbalance in the world. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this book. I did but I found Zane to be frustrating. He really doesn’t listen to what people tell him. He is given good advice throughout the book and he either ignores it or doesn’t want to listen because “who are they to tell him what to do”. Things kinda go from bad to worst when he does this until the end when faced with his own death does he actually listen to what people are telling him and it turns out okay. There were moments in the book that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to finish. I’m glad I did because it turned out to be alright but it wasn’t easy to get through. Again this could be because I don’t know anything about Mayan mythology. With Rick’s Greek and Roman and even a little with Aru’s Indian, I knew enough Myths to figure out what was going ton and how they might be able escape. I didn’t have that here and maybe that made it harder. I also found Aru to be more likeable then Zane but I also identified more with Aru. I should mention that Zane has a disability. One of his legs is shorter then the other and he has to walk with a cane. It seems like his weakness but it turn out it s his strength. I think that is an important message for kids to read and allow them to be seen. I would recommend both books for anyone who loves Percy Jackson and are looking for stories outside Greek and Roman mythologies. They both are good in their own right and I look forward to reading the next books in both series..
I have to say this is best of the Trials of Apollo series so far. We’ve settle in nicely into Apollo/Lester’s to rescue the oracles from the Triumvirate and earn his place back on Olympus but the stacks are much higher than ever before. If I had one issue with Rick’s works is the lack of consequences for the main characters. The life of demigods are often faced with many deadly trials but somehow always managed to live. After a while, the near death experiences lose their impact when the reader knows the character is going to live because they are after all the hero. True as readers we want them to live and have their happy endings but you can’t keep stating how dangerous demigods lives are if they never truly see the consequences but I digress. Apollo and Meg explore the Burning Maze with the help of Grover. This leads them to California where the west has been dealing with unprecedented wildfires. Either Rick knew that California would dealing with wildfires in real life or just coincidence. It would be nice if a few demigods could go in a maze, defeat an enchantress and stop the wildfires but alas it doesn’t work that way. The maze brings them to Meg’s former home and the help of Piper and Jason. Our heroes face the third Emperor who is by far the most dangerous. More than anything, we are seeing the most growth in Apollo is this one. He’s still Apollo so the ego is still big but it has had some bruising. He’s starting to understand his own humanity as he’s understanding that he is no longer immortal and is truly vulnerable. Apollo is slowly embracing his humanity and with that comes all the joys and the pain that comes with it. More than anything, if he is going to complete his quest he is going to have to become more human and depend on his friends to do it. The stacks are much higher than they have ever been in one of Rick’s series and making of powerful series.