Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Series: The Blackwell Pages #1
Source: Borrowed ARC from Amy at Book Loving Mom!
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters–wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.
The gods died a long time ago.
Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history–because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt’s classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.
However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids–led by Matt–will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen’s lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.
Review: I have been talking non-stop about this book prior to the release date. Thanks to my constant whining and social media, I was lent this book by a wonderful blogger.
I felt almost happy with this book at times. I do not set out to compare books side by side, but Percy Jackson fans will be thrilled with this book. It was adventurous, fresh, and downright fun. There is a lot to cover, so I’ll break it down into little bits.
Character: The modern counterparts to the Norse gods were a nice touch. I did enjoy Matt’s overall growth as a stronger character, looking to take charge of his destiny. Fen and Laurie were a little more difficult to pinpoint. I ended up having a very high respect for Laurie, and my opinion of Fen fell as the book continued. Baldwin was just flat out awesome. The authors got it right on this reincarnated God. I hope that the next book covers the twins in a little more detail in the next installation. All in all, it was Matt and Laurie who really carried the entire storyline.
Plot: Middle Grade books usually run on team work, and this one was no exception. A trio of young teens set out to overcome an obstacle. The storyline was a bit muddy, and the audience had to wade through quite a bit of info dumping about the Brekkes before the story took flight. The first few chapters are a wreck, but the storyline really picks up and sets up a great adventure when it finally starts to roll. I do love how each of the main characters struggled to find their place in the team. This helps reach a wider range of young children and teens struggling with the same issue in real life. Where do I belong? How can I ever fit in? How can I ever become anything? Throughout the book, we see the three center characters start to develop a stronger sense of what it means to be a part of a pack, and the message that friendship can develop in the most barren places was a nice, sweet touch.
Writing: Not the strongest part of the book. The authors seemed to repeat some of the major elements over and over. Repetition is no big deal, but you can only read about Fen loving Laurie like a sister so many times before you wish to rip your own hair out. I also felt that the authors wanted to rush some parts of the book, and never fully explained some of the characters. They treated some of the plot devices as extra baggage and expected the reader to just accept the major gaps in the story line.
Connection to Norse Mythology
: Here is where my nerd reflexes come into play. I was super picky over the Nordic aspect of the book. I will admit that I learned something new, however. I was under the impression that Odin’s Horse, Sleipnir, was the reason we have “nightmares”. I was mistaken after I looked it
up. I liked the wolf portion of the book, and how the author’s wound Loki and the Wolves into a modern day retelling. The story of Baldr was also a major portion of the book. I was a little unhappy with the handling of that particular myth. The treatment of two of the characters who represented two of the main gods also riled me up. They were major gods, but the book just pushed and shoved them throughout the storyline. However, this was a story about Thor and Loki, and I could see similar threads in this book that corresponded with the mythology. The one, big huge thorn in my side was the treatment of Laurie by the other two guys. Vikings and Nordic ancestors were HUGE on female rights, but Laurie constantly battled the male egos of the two other characters. No no no. If you write about Norse mythology, then your females are kick-ass awesome. End of story.
Overall, I think this series is going to be wonderful. This book had some of the hiccups of a first tome in a series, but I believe that the story is strong enough to carry a larger arc throughout the entire story line. If you like middle grade adventures and an ongoing series, you’ll like it. Norse and Vikings lovers: give it a chance. It is a nice way to finally add some rivalry to the Greek and Roman mythology that is highly popular in middle grade fiction at the moment.
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This giveaway starts on May 7th, 2013, and will end on May 21st, 2013 at midnight.
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