Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is perfect for fans of Percy Jackson looking to expand their knowledge of Hindu mythology.
About ‘Aru Shah and the End of Time’
Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this adventure by Roshani Chokshi about twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who 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’ book review
If you picked up Aru Shah because there’s a Percy Jackson-shaped whole in your heart, you’re in luck. Roshani Chokshi’s Hindu mythology-inspired novel immediately calls to mind everything that makes Rick Riordan’s smash hit wonderful: a relatable protagonist who finds themselves in awkward-yet-hilarious situations, great dialogue that’s both smart and realistic, and zany characters who could only populate a world brimming with the magic of mythology.
Aru Shah and the End of Time is, just like Percy Jackson, geared toward middle schoolers but made for everyone. Aru is a compulsive stretcher of the truth, and though she means no harm by it, she does end up getting herself into trouble quite often. But her greatest weakness might also be her greatest strength, and that’s a beautiful thing to see unfold across the pages of this book.
Greek and Roman mythology is quite well-known in the United States (thanks in part, of course, because of Riordan), but Hindu mythology is a little more mysterious. Though these gods may have different names and different faces, they share many of the same qualities as Zeus, Hades, Athena, and Poseidon, and that means any fan of Percy Jackson will have no trouble falling in love with Aru Shah, too, who has a refreshing voice amid a cast of colorful characters.
Perhaps my favorite part about this story is that it’s not written by Rick Riordan. His new imprint, Rick Riordan Presents, offers his fans stories about mythologies he does not have the expertise to tackle. Who better to write about Hindu mythology than someone of Indian descent? There is a genuine love to this story that not only feels exciting and liberating, but authentic and honorable.
The best part about this story, however, is that it is not a pure retelling, but rather keeps the spirit of the original tales. While Pandavan brothers are well-known in Hindu mythology, Chokshi chose to turn the tale on its head and create a group of sisters, bound by their souls, to be the heroes of her book.
While the mythology certainly colors the pages and makes everything a little more shiny and beautiful, it is the foundation of the book that kept me turning the pages. At its core, Aru Shah and the End of Time is about the power of children and what they’re capable of doing if only they choose to believe in themselves. It is a theme we have been seeing across real-life headlines in the past few months, and it is a theme I was delighted to discover across these pages as well.
Aru Shah and the End of Time is the first of four books in the Pandava series, and I already can’t wait for Book 2, titled Aru Shah and the Song of Death, which will be published in April 2019.