I received this book for free from Rick Riordan Presents in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Published by Rick Riordan Presents on March 27th, 2018
Genres: Adventure, Middle-Grade, Mythology
Source: Rick Riordan Presents
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Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
I never read Rick Riordan’s books. The short story is that there was no real reason to why I didn’t pick the books up. The longer (and a little pointless) story is that when The Lightning Thief first came out, it had a completely different cover then what it has now. I was in the middle school and our librarian told us all about it. I grew older but it stayed in the corner of my mind, I was in eternal search of the book with the white cover and never realized until a year ago (seriously!!!) that that book was the same one written by Rick Riordan that was so beloved now. Anyway, long pointless story short, I am weird and specific about what I read.
So I missed Rick Riordan hype train but that didn’t mean I never read any mythological adventures growing up and that I never craved them. Of course, as a kid, I never got adventures with Indian MCs at the forefront or a book that dwelled into Hindu mythology and allowed me to be a superhero too. 10 years later, (HAS IT REALLY BEEN THAT LONG SINCE 7th grade???) other kids around the world will get stories I craved, needed but never got.
I am not gonna lie, I am pretty emo writing this review and I was pretty emo while reading it. It’s like a painful nostalgia and I am ridiculously upset this book wasn’t published a decade ago when I needed it. I mean, I still really need Aru Shah today for a multitude of reasons I won’t get into but damn, 7th grade me’s existence would have felt so valid.
So this book? I read and adored The Star-Touched Queen when it debuted but… I think… this series might be the best of Chokshi. Aru Shah is not only an incredibly well written adventure, it’s fucking hilarious. It’s full of heart and a lot of meaningful easter-egg convos about how being diasporic shapes your relationship to your culture.
Aru Shah isn’t a liar, she is just imaginative. When her lies start unraveling, she brings schoolmates over the museum she lives in to prove a point. Seventh-grade girls (as anyone who has been in seventh-grade might agree) are pretty scary and if Aru is able to get out of her lies by rubbing a diya that her mom has specifically told her not to because it could bring about the end of the world, she does it. Not going to lie, I probably would have too.
Of course, it does trigger the end of the world. Kind of anyway. Everyone she knows is frozen, including her mom and she is suddenly thrust into a world she knows nothing about but her new companion, Mini does. Aru and Mini embark on an adventure as they embrace their identities as Pandavas–legendary heroes.
The setting and world building is so LUSH and I can tell how much care and detail went into crafting it. A lot of the mythological characters the book was drawing on were new to me but I still felt right at home and was generally so happy (and a little emo) as I was reading the book.
Okay so. The real question now is why not five stars, Rashika? Well. That’s because as much as I loved this book (and I DID LOVE IT) I think there were just moments where the pacing wasn’t what I needed it to be. The adventure felt a little long-winded at times but then it would pick right up again.
Overall though, this is a book that is a MUST READ for all fans of mythological adventures and one I am definitely gonna need to buy a finished copy of so I can re-read. I don’t think it’s possible for me to express how much I want to shove this book in everyone’s faces. I cannot wait to see what other adventure awaits these two pandavas (and more???) and I cannot wait to see what else RICK RIORDAN PRESENTS has in store for us!
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