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.
Gods this is such a great series. I’m sorry that it’s only a trilogy but Rick being Rick did leave it open that if he wants to he can always return to Vahalla, Magnus Chase and his friends. I’ve gushed and praised Rick Riordan in so many other reviews and this is another one. His ability to mix mythology, humor and present day is truly a gift. Yes, his these books a little formulaic. His heroes must go on epic journeys, where they must face many dangers and trials before facing a near impossible task but never does it feel tired or old. It maybe because of his cast of characters are all are real and diverse. How many young reader novels has a Muslim and gender fluid characters in the same novel? and more important how many of them are both are shown to be brave, resourceful, loyal, smart, funny and happy. The answer not many. Both Samirah and Alex are all of those and more. Throughout the entirety of the book Sam is practicing Ramadan, which is probably the first time that many of readers have ever read about Ramadan. As I have stated before about Rick’s, he’s not afraid to tackle tough subjects in his books and he does it by showing positive scenes and connecting them with the stories of our past. That no matter what a child is going through, they are not the only ones. Kids of all race, gender identity and faith can see themselves in one of his many books and that’s amazing. So keep up the good work Rick!
It’s that time of the year when publishers release titles in bunches so they are out before the Holidays. It also means my to-read list just gets longer and longer. Here are a few books I just can’t wait to read.
One Dark Throneby Kendare Blake – the sequel to Three Dark Crowns. Three sisters with three different powers but only one will survive to be crowned Queen.
Before the Devil Breaks Youby Libba Bray – Book three of the excellent The Diviner’s series. To quote Evie, it really is the Bees knees.
So I’m just going to come and say it, this wasn’t Colleen’s best work. To be honest, I was kinda bored through most of it. The first 2/3 of the book was kinda like the never ending camping trip in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Lily and Ahmose had to must trek through the cosmic universe, through the land of the dead to battle mythical creatures to help the Egyptian Gods and wake the other other Sons of Egypt, Amon and Asten. All while having internal arguments with the two other people inhabiting Lily’s body, Tia and Ashleigh so they can altogether form a fourth person to defeat Seth. Yeah, there was a lot going on there. Maybe it would have been better if I cared more for Lily, Tia or Ashleigh. Maybe it was just the pacing of the book. It felt repetitive and throwing all these unnecessary tasks and battles in her way. All these life or death situations that you knew she was never really in danger since she is the heroine and we have another 300 pages to go. To be fair some of those run-ins turned out to be important to the finale but most of it could have been completed left out and it wouldn’t have effected the narrative. I’m glad that this series is now over and she can refocus on her better series, Tiger Saga, which the fifth book has been in the works for at least four years now. Bring me back Kelsey, Ren and Kishan ASAP.