Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Series #1) by Roshani Chokshi.
Rick Riordan Presents, Disney Hyperion, New York, 2018.
MG fantasy, 356 pages including glossary.
Lexile: 630L .
AR Level: 4.7 (worth 12.0 points) .
Aru didn’t mean to bring about the end of the universe. She was just trying to impress the so-called friends who caught her in a lie. But then it also turns out that she’s been learning all those old folktales from her mom for a reason.
I’m constantly shocked when I go to look up my review for this book and then realize that I’ve never yet reviewed it, although I’ve been referencing it since this May 2018 review. We’ve actually read it several times already too. Clearly it’s past time that I review this novel!
Aru Shah was the story that kicked off the much-anticipated Riordan Presents imprint, so it got a lot of buzz. The first volume was well-received and by this time the third has been announced. Beyond the obvious critical reviews, our family has also highly enjoyed reading Aru’s adventures.
Aru’s greatest strength as a character is that she’s so very real. How many of us, desperate to fit in at a new middle school, would have lit a lamp that supposedly brings destruction to the world? I suspect I would have. She’s no angel, hiding a candy stash inside a sacred artifact, constantly lying to her classmates, and making a few other questionable choices throughout the book.
However, her errors and positive actions are both shown to have consequences, some predictable and some unforseen. The results are sometimes magical, but always fairly logical, and far more memorable than a perfect character or evil villain. Speaking of villains, even the bad guy has a backstory here, and reason for sympathy.
The pacing is even, with a good amount of suspense without getting too scary, and new characters and situations added in a reasonable way. I did find that the final chapter felt a bit longer and slower, but for a series this makes sense as a rare opportunity to see the characters relaxing and a way to ease in to the next adventure.
Since many readers may be unfamiliar with Hindu mythology, there’s a helpful glossary at the back of the book. As I mentioned, we’ve read it several times and the glossary was useful, and humorous, on subsequent rereadings.
Mini is ideally suited to become Aru’s first best friend and sister. First I must mention that she is half-Indian, her father is Fillipino! She refers to both sides of her heritage at various points. I am always excited to see non-white biracial characters, as they seem underrepresented in literature.
Mini is a bit of a hypochondriac, always concerned about health and worrying about all the ways she could die. Yet at the same time she’s incredibly brave and intelligent, saving the day even when it terrifies her and always thoughtful about the best course of action to take.
It’s beautiful to watch these two girls coming into the knowledge of themselves and growing in both confidence and ability.
Sinead has a review of this over at Huntress of Diverse Books, check her thoughts out!
I always find the hardest reviews to write are either of books that I absolutely loved, or books that I found mediocre. Hopefully I was able to articulate something about why we enjoyed this novel so much. Whether this review succeeded or not, please go give this book a try! Highly recommended.