My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Aru Shah and the End of Time is a really accessible, middle-grade adventure through Hindu mythology and culture. As a huge fan of mythology in general, I was incredibly excited to read this book and I was not disappointed. For those of you who have read Roshani Chokshi’s young adult novels, this is not at all similar in my mind. Her writing here is much more fun and carefree than her YA series writing, which is very poetic and vivid. That being said, I think this is a great book for middle-grade readers and those who enjoy lighter tones.
Aru is a 12-year-old with a penchant for fabrication who discovers that the world she knows is much bigger (and scarier) than she ever expected. I felt that she experienced a degree of growth over the course of the novel as she learned more about her place in the world and the skills that she could bring to the table. It was nice to see a bond of friendship formed between her and the other main character, Mini. At times, I found Aru to be a little too in her own head and Mini to be too reticent to do anything, but that’s just a personal preference. People are like that in the real world, so it didn’t ring inauthentically to me it just made the characters a little tiresome at times.
My biggest issue with it was that it seemed like it was trying to hard to be a Rick Riordan novel. I wished that Roshani had let her own humor and writing shine on its own, rather than changing it to be an imitation of someone else. Even though her book was published as an imprint of Rick Riordan Presents, it doesn’t mean that it has to sound like Rick Riordan wrote it.
The aspect of the novel and I hope the series at large, that shone for me was the world building. While I have a familiarity with Hindi mythology, I was so enamored by all of the new information that I learned over the course of this novel. We meet a variety of mythological creatures, gods, weapons, and travel through many enchanted places. I could vividly picture each in my mind and loved that aspect of the book so much. If I wanted to rate the book just based upon that it would be a five-star read, unfortunately, the characterization and imitation took it down a little for me – but I still think it’s a highly enjoyable middle-grade mythology read.