Roshani Chokshi’s middle grade debut, Aru Shah and the End of Time, is a book worth adding to your collection. As the first book from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, which is “designed to elevate the diversity of mythologies from around the world through the voice of the best storytellers for middle grade readers,” Aru Shah and the End of Time incorporates Hindu mythology into a fun, magical adventure for young readers.
When Aru Shah lights the Lamp of Bharata to impress her classmates, she accidentally releases the Sleeper – an ancient demon – and learns the truth about her past, setting out on a quest to stop the Sleeper and save the world. Aru is joined by a great cast of characters, including her sister Mini and pigeon-guardian Boo.
Though the style of the story is Percy Jackson-esque, Chokshi has taken the mythology-inspired quest style and put her own spin on it. The style will feel familiar to fans of Riordan’s work, with the fun chapter titles and humor woven throughout, but thanks to the Hindu mythology effortlessly woven throughout the story, it’s clear that this novel was meant to be written by Chokshi.
As mentioned earlier, the main cast of characters is extremely well done. They are fleshed out in a realistic way without having any info-dump moments. Aru and Mini are young and dealing with many issues that young people deal with – problems with friends, family, bullying; trying to figure out who you are – and these issues are approached in a sensitive and realistic manner. Two clear motifs that continue to surface throughout are the idea that nobody is perfect and that there’s always room for growth and improvement – great reminders for young readers and adults alike.
I loved reading Aru’s story. Aru is a strong main character and I think readers of all ages will enjoy connecting with and cheering for her success. As the start of a series, I can’t wait to see where the Pandava quartet goes from here. Overall, Aru Shah and the End of Time is an enjoyable middle grade adventure and a necessary addition to a diverse bookshelf.
About the Book:
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
Aru Shah and the End of Time releases on March 27, 2018