I was able to get an ARC of Aru Shah thanks to Netgalley and I'm not sure I've ever been more excited to get an ARC before in my life! I have been looI was able to get an ARC of Aru Shah thanks to Netgalley and I'm not sure I've ever been more excited to get an ARC before in my life! I have been looking forward to reading this book since it was first announced that Rick Riordan was going to be starting his own publishing imprint and was going to be releasing a novel by Roshani Chokshi. Let me tell you, this book definitely did not disappoint!
Roshani Chokshi is an absolutely amazing writer. Her book, The Star-Touched Queen, was one of the most beautiful and lush pieces of YA fiction I read last year and not only did I love that story but I feel like it gave me a pretty decent background to be able to really get a lot of the mythology and references in Aru Shah. Even if you are not super familiar with Indian mythology and folklore, Chokshi does a wonderful job of filling readers in on what they are supposed to know, get and understand with each new character and world that the protagonists encounter. She builds storytelling into the very story itself by having Aru recount so many of the myths and stories that she was told as a child and relating them to what is currently going on, so don't worry that you won't have enough background information to understand the novel because you definitely will.
Aru Shah and the End of Time is about a seventh-grader named Aru Shah who lives with her mother in a museum of Indian mythology and artifacts. She has a habit of telling lies to her classmates to make herself sound more impressive and when she's caught in one such lie by some of her mean classmates, Aru lights a lamp -one of the artifacts in the museum- in order to impress them. This lamp is supposed to bring about the end of the world, which, unfortunately for Aru, is exactly what happens. In lighting the lamp, she discovers that she is the reincarnated form of one of the Pandava brothers -a famous character in Indian folklore. She gets a pigeon mentor and finds an ally in another reincarnated Pandava brother, a girl named Mini who is as fearful and cautious as she is intelligent. Together, the girls have to gather keys to get into the Underworld, where they will have to find the weapons they need to destroy the Sleeper, who was awoken when Aru lit the lamp, and stop the world from ending.
Every chapter of the novel is filled with wonderful characters and amazing worlds, all taken from Indian mythology. Chokshi has managed to take all of these stories and keep them true to their original form, while adapting them for modern audiences. The entrance to the Night Bazaar, for instance, is actually a Costco. Each setting and character encountered is described in rich and luscious detail, as is Chokshi's style, but is also somehow written perfectly in the voice of a 12-year-old girl. There are tons of references that kids will get and Aru and Mini talk very much like teenagers without is being annoying or forced. For middle and high school students, they will definitely be able to connect with the writing style while still appreciating the wonderful details and descriptions.
This book is full of adventure and there is never a dull moment. The story hits the ground running from chapter one and doesn't finish until the final sentence. Chokshi manages to wrap up the story while setting up for the next one, leaving you turning the page hoping for more! I can't believe the second novel isn't coming out until 2019! In addition to the action and adventure, there's a lot of deeper moments where Aru has to learn about herself and come to terms with the relationship she's had with her mother and why her mother is the way that she is. There's even a scene where the girls meet the palace the original Pandava brothers called home that left me blinking away tears because it was so touching and beautifully written! There's a lot to take away from this novel and a lot for room for discussion.
As a teacher, I cannot wait to be able to share this book with my students. It's a great, fast-paced read and any easy read that will appeal to reluctant readers and your more experienced readers. The book features not one but two central, strong, amazing, wonderful female characters and they are WOC, which is super important in today's YA lit! The inclusion of the Indian mythology is just as exciting, interesting, and normalized as the Greek and Roman mythology featured in the Percy Jackson series. There are even several moments were Aru talks about dealing with bullying and comments made by her classmates about her culture, which I think will be great for both students who might feel different from their classmates and to help those classmates connect with students they think are different. I am looking forward to adopting this book into a Hero's Journey unit next year! It will be great to have in a classroom library and I anticipate it will soon become part of the curriculum as well.
Definitely pick up a copy of Aru Shah as soon as you can! You will not be disappointed! ...more