Aru Shah and the End of Time
By: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Publication Date: March 27th 2018
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?
Good morning, lovely readers! This is our first guest post, by school-librarian-in-training Brittany (Britt for short, since you all know we love our nicknames around here). We pulled her in specifically to take a look at one of the most exciting middle-grade books we’ve seen come out, but we’ll hopefully be seeing more of her as she covers some of the gaps that Em and I don’t read as much of (think contemporary fiction). If you like what she has to say, don’t hesitate to let her know in the comments!
Roshani weaves a fast-paced, otherworldly adventure in the first instillation of her newest middle grade series, the Pandava Quartet. With equal parts plot and character development, Aru Shah and the End of Time brings Hindu myth into the twenty-first century. Aru, if not lovable, will remind reader of the fickle time of adolescents and what it’s like to have something to prove to peers. From the beginning Aru struggles with questions of belonging, using her imagination to level the playing field between herself and her rich peers. Aru is perfectly flawed and relatable, creating a friendly face that isn’t white – a refreshing change for Middle Grade stories.
As the action increases so do the characters. Meet Mini, another lovable Indian girl thrown into her celestial destiny millennials in the making. Mini is a perfect foil to Aru, quiet and thoughtful, where Aru is impulsive and out-spoken. Throughout the story readers will follow their journey, seeing each girl use their different personalities to beat age-old demons and save the world! Aru and Mini aren’t the normal reincarnated demi-gods though. Throughout the story this rag tag team must prove that they can save the world, while gods and demons alike tell them that they aren’t strong enough, old enough, or male enough to do what has been done in the past.
Each chapter brings another demon, another hurl preventing Aru and Mini from saving the world. Sometimes the action feels list-like, like the characters just can’t take a break. However, the inclusion of Hindu mythology brings out exotic and interesting monsters and villains.
The new Rick Riordan press won’t disappoint readers looking for mythology-based stories and strong female characters. While the plot is fast and action packed, at the center of this story is the journey to find family, whether biological or celestial. Aru and Mini kick butt and take names throughout the book, showing readers that you don’t have to be a male to be a Hindu hero! I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out in 2019, with a promise of more Hindu mythology and more girl power!
And if you’re less interested in Hindu than, say, Mayan or Korean mythology, keep your eyes peeled on the Rick Riordan imprint. Riordan’s mission in starting this is to give readers more diverse takes on mythology that he didn’t feel qualified to write, while also giving a platform to diverse, own-voices authors. It’s all around good stuff, in other words!
Brittany is a librarian-in-training with a focus on school librarianship. In her spare time she is an avid collector of books, cats and cat-like people. Favorite reads include the Lunar Chronicles, Strange the Dreamer, Children of Blood and Bone and anything V.E. Schwab writes. She can usually be found haunting the youth section of the local library, or taking the aforementioned cats on walks (it’s very impressive).
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.