BWW Review: ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME by Roshani Chokshi
"In theory, a quest sounded awesome. But in reality, a whole lot of lives hung in the balance. Maybe that's why superheroes wore capes. Maybe they weren't capes at all, but safety blankets, like the one Aru kept at the bottom of her bed and pulled up under her chin before she went to sleep. Maybe superheroes just tied their blankies around their necks so they'd have a little bit of comfort wherever they went. Because honestly? Saving the world was scary. No harm admitting that."
~Aru, ARU SHAH & THE END OF TIME
Last week, I was fortunate enough to interview Roshani Chokshi for BroadwayWorld. We chatted about world-building,favorite myths, and, of course, working with Rick Riordan. Check it out!
Percy Jackson fans looking for similar authors are going to fall head over heels for Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah! All the humor, friendships, and, of course, quests make this a perfect debut in the Rick Riordan Presents line!
I have a been a fan of Chokshi since THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN debuted. When I heard that there was going to be a Rick Riordan Presents line with publisher Disney Hyperion and that she was one of the three chosen authors, I was SO excited. Especially when I found out that her series would launch first! Granted, I wanted all three books and thought they all sounded great, but I especially wanted ARU SHAH.
The series starter ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME came out last week and I'm so happy to say it didn't disappoint! I was enamored with the world-building and the characters and have already been introduced to so much new mythology! It also feels like a great new series to recommend to kids who couldn't get enough of the Percy Jackson series. There's only so much I can give them in the children's department, and I love that ARU SHAH had all the humor, all the emphasis on friendship, and, of course, all the fun real-world questing that the Percy books have. I am so excited to continue Aru's journey as well as read the other books in the line because if they all capture the spirit of Riordan's own books and are as compelling and engaging as Aru Shah has been already, then I need to own each and every single one.
Aru Shah is just an ordinary kid, and readers will easily see themselves in her. She constantly wishes for a different life, and often tells tall tales at school that get her into trouble. When three of her classmates come to the museum her mother owns and see that she didn't go to Paris during break like she'd said, they decide to call her on her bluffs. Aru had told them that the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture was home to the cursed Lamp of Bharata. The trio demands that she do the impossible and touch the lamp. Panicking and not wanting to be in a viral video, Aru lights the lamp, never dreaming that she'll ACTUALLY release the Sleeper and bring about the end of the world. When everyone around her freezes, she realizes there's more at stake than she ever thought possible. She is a reincarnation of one of the Pandava Brothers from the epic Mahabharata poem. She is a demigod. And now, it is up to her and her Pandava sister Mini to save the world and prevent the Sleeper from reaching the Lord of Destruction before Shiva can perform the dance to end Time forever...
One of the main reasons I first fell in love with Rick Riordan's books was because they were overflowing with Greek mythology. Mythology was my favorite course in school, and I loved books influenced by myths. After discovering mythology, and realizing that myths and lore varied from culture to culture, I was always on the look out for tales from all over the world. I loved that Riordan went beyond the Greek mythology that is the most well-known in the United States and explored Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology. New tales were introduced and kids grew up enamored. One reason I've been so excited about the Rick Riordan Presents line is because more authors will introduce more myths to kids through fictional series--and they'll be #OwnVoices to boot! The first three series in the line focus on Hindu, Mayan, and Korean mythology. I know very little about these tales and am so excited to add to the vault in my mind where I store all these myths and tales.
Aru Shah has already introduced me to so much, from little things such as Urvashi's outfit "made from the skipped heartbeats of every person who had ever laid eyes" on her, which reveals so much about her personality and makes you want to know more, to the quests and heroism of the Pandava Brothers from the epic poem. Hindu demigods don't come into their heritage the same way as Greek demigods, either. They are related through the soul, not through blood. And their Claiming Ceremony is AWESOME and potentially deadlier than the ones at Camp Half Blood.
Another thing I loved about Riordan's books was the way he could turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. For example, Percy Jackson's weapon Riptide. It's a PEN. Demons and nymphs and monsters walked among humans, often disguised as your local teacher or shop owner. Regular buildings were fronts for something more magical....but only if you knew how to look. I love that all of these traits I loved so much carried over into Aru Shah and hope they do with other authors as well. There is an incredible Night Bazaar hidden in a CostCo--and it's a place for all types of beings, no matter their culture or identity. Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase and Aru Shah could totally walk side by side--and so too could a minotaur or a fury or a dryad! It was such an imaginative place to bring to life, and I loved the characters we met inside who needed to help Aru and Mini on their journey. There are other "hidden" places they stop, too, that I don't want to spoil, but I will say, that visiting the family home of the Pandava Brothers was an especially well-shaped scene I enjoyed. And, of course, items! From weapons hidden in every day objects to special cookies to hairpins, there is so much fun and creativity throughout the journey!
There are so many great things I loved about Aru Shah, but to divulge them all would be to spoil your own discovery. ARU SHAH was fantastic, though, and I'm already eager to get my hands on ARU SHAH AND THE SONG OF DEATH in 2019 and meet more of the reincarnated Pandavas!