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Magnus Chase and The Sword of Summer

December 14, 2016

magnus-chase-coverBy Rick Riordan

Book One in the Magnus Chase series

Synopsis: In the tradition of Rick Riordan’s two other series that mesh ancient gods with the modern world, the Magnus Chase series brings the world of Norse mythology to modern day America, with the city of Boston being the central hub of “Midgard” (a.k.a. Earth–one of the nine worlds that branch off from the mythological World Tree.) In current day Boston, Magnus Chase is a teenaged boy who for the last two years has been living on the streets, following the mysterious death of his mother.  Little does he know that his own death is imminent and will mark not his end, but only the beginning of his incredible journey through the realm of the Norse gods.  His first stop after death is Valhalla, where those who die bravely are taken to spend their afterlife in eternal preparation for “Ragnarok”—the end of the world according to Norse myth.  Along the way he learns his true parentage and meets beings he only thought lived in books, including Odin, Thor, Loki, plus giants, dwarves, elves, and more.

Review: I’m always reluctant to put books into gender categories, because, obviously, boys and girls can agree or disagree on what makes a good book.  But in this case, I have to say, this felt like a boy’s book.  Like Rick Riordan’s series about Percy Jackson, the main character is an adolescent boy, and most of the story contains perspectives and musings of the main character.  There isn’t much change in perspective, we only see what he sees and think what he thinks.  Also, the female characters are all pretty aggressive and battle-ready.

My 12-year old loves the two Magnus Chase books he has read and eagerly awaits the third book.  He is crazy about this author and loves the idea of bringing mythological beings into the modern world.  He asked me to read the first book so we could talk about it, so I did.

I was very pleased for the most part; there were times when I laughed out loud and had to tell anyone within earshot what was so funny.  The story moved along swiftly and there were a good many twists and turns that kept me engrossed.  I have no doubt boys would love this series; I think my husband would even enjoy it.  But I would have a hard time recommending it to my female friends because there is nothing that really tugs at your heartstrings—not that that’s the only thing women want in a book, but it’s one characteristic among many that should at least make an appearance.   I never really got attached to the characters, even Magnus, because I was never really brought into their troubles, their souls.  For example, I didn’t care about the Valkyrie who lost her position because it seemed like a crazy job for a young girl to want in the first place.  I was happy she was banished to the Earthly realm where I hoped she would stay in school and lead a normal life.

The lover of fantasy in me had a pretty good time but wished for more sensitivity and connection.  The mother in me kept wanting to just give these teenagers a hug and hope that there was some kind of adult intervention that would lend them the support they needed.  Teens are too young to be on their own in Valhalla, going to battle and being killed every day. So, while I totally get the appeal of the book, it’s not one I’d recommend across the board.

Rating: 4 boots

Recommendation: Boys ages 10 and up and girls who like action, weaponry, and body armor.

From → Book Treks

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