Goodreads: Aru Shah and the End of Time
Series: Pandava Quest #1
Aru Shah has never quite fit in at school. Her peers are all fabulously wealthy. She, on the other hand, never gets to travel on exotic vacations and lives, not in a swanky home, but in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. She has taken to lying to try to be like everyone else. But then her classmates dare her to prove than an ancient lamp really does contain a curse and Aru ends up waking an ancient evil. Now she has only a handful of days to travel to the land of the dead, awaken some legendary weapons, and
“Tales are slippery, her mother had often said. The truth of a story depends on who is telling it.”
Aru Shah and the End of Time is a solid middle-grade fantasy, the first book published by Rick Riordan’s new imprint, dedicated to showcasing mythologies from various cultures. While the story does not feel particularly new, it is exciting, fast-paced, and humorous. Fans of Rick Riordan will obviously love it, but readers who enjoy fantasy in general will also find much to like here.
The story starts off briskly with Aru lighting the lamp that awakens the Sleeper and the end of time. Though she has trouble fitting in at school because everyone there is fabulously wealthy except herself (I’m wondering how she got in this school, then?), readers do not ever see Aru in class. Rather, her classmates show up on her doorstep to challenge her for all her lies about being wealthy, too. She lights the lamp on a dare because a schoolmate is filming her on his camera and she wishes to avoid her lies going viral. (Pretty sure filming someone in their home without consent can’t be legal. Isn’t filming a minor in their home without consent with intent to humiliate going to backfire on this kid? Seriously, I’m thinking Aru could have just threatened to get this kid expelled if he didn’t put his phone away.)
Anyway, the book pretty much starts with action and never flags. The usual, expected plot bits happen, with Aru and one of her reincarnated Pandava siblings going to the otherworld to meet the Hindu gods and goddesses, be recognized by their godly fathers, and collect their weapons. They are accompanied by a spiritual guide/humorous sidekick in the form of a pigeon, so the book takes on a bit of the feel of a Disney princess film. Many adventures ensue, all with Aru still dressed in her Spiderman pajamas as she tries to save the world. The bits of humor are often the most vibrant parts of the book.
Really, Aru Shah and the End of Time needs no reviews. Fans of Rick Riordan, educators and librarians, and individuals who keep an eye on the book market were all expecting this book for a long time and I am sure it will sell well simply based on the fact that its from Riordan’s imprint. Still, if you are wondering whether to read it, sure. It’s a fun book and one that middle school children, especially, will find much to like about.