7:00 pm EDT, October 2, 2018

‘The Storm Runner’ book review: J.C. Cervantes explores Mayan mythology for Rick Riordan Presents

By Karen Rought | Edited by Brandi Delhagen

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes is the latest book to come out of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, and this time we’re exploring a whole new set of gods and goddesses.

Author Rick Riordan is well-known for his tales of mythology, so it should come as no surprise that he created an imprint to highlight the best mythological tales from other cultures. Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah and the End of Time was the perfect title to launch Rick Riordan Presents, paving the way for future titles from additional authors.

The second title from Riordan’s imprint is The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes. The book begins in New Mexico but takes the main character, Zane, to other cities and even other realms to face the death god he accidentally unleashed upon the world. Much like Riordan’s titles, and the other ones to come out of Rick Riordan Presents, The Storm Runner is a middle-grade action adventure story that explores life through the lens of mythology.

We encounter much of what is to be expected in Storm Runner fairly early on: a kid who’s a little different, a rich setting that holds some obvious mysteries, zany side characters, frightening villains, and the promise that everything is about to change.

Even though these are staples in these kinds of stories, it’s the details that make each tale truly unique.

The Storm Runner follows the story of Zane Obispo, a young Latino boy with one underdeveloped leg. He gets picked on in school and much of his inner struggle is about wanting to be normal. But like Percy Jackson’s ADHD, Zane’s disability turns out to be a strength. He not only learns to accept his body as it is, but he also learns to see his leg as an advantage once he discovers his destiny.

Zane and his dog Rosie are instantly likeable. They’re both deeply loyal to each other and their bond will undoubtedly melt your heart. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both a bit rebellious and have an us-against-the-world attitude.

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But the spotlight is obviously on Zane as he’s unexpectedly introduced to the world of Mayan mythology. It’s crazy enough that gods and goddesses exist, let alone that he may not be completely human. Going from someone who gets picked on daily for his disability to the guy who may be able to save the world is quite the trip, but arrogance is not one of Zane’s vices. Instead, he remains true to who he is: a loyal friend to those that earn his trust.

Though I wouldn’t have trusted Brooks quite as quickly as Zane did, he nonetheless decides this mysterious newcomer is worth saving. And it’s a good thing, too. Where Zane is completely new to this world, Brooks can help fill in a lot of blanks. She stays mysterious for the better part of the book, but this only increases the intrigue. Who is she and where did she come from? What does she want with Zane and what is her ultimate goal? Is she telling the truth?

Brooks’ introduction kicks off the book’s plot and really gets things moving. From here on out, it’s a constant jump from one bump in the road to another. (Life isn’t easy for a demigod, after all.) Along the way, we meet plenty of interesting demons and deities who showcase how strange and interesting Mayan mythology can truly be.

While I’ve been interested in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology for most of my life, Mayan mythology has always felt a little out of reach. I’ve dabbled, certainly, but never have I felt so immersed in these stories as I have when reading The Storm Runner. Of course, much like the Percy Jackson books, this is a retelling of the ancient myths with a modern twist, but I still feel inspired to dig deeper and learn more. And isn’t that the point?

Whether or not you’re familiar with Mayan myths, there is plenty to love about The Storm Runner. It has that trademark middle-grade humor that will certainly keep your kid’s attention and probably make you chuckle at the same time. The fast-paced story means this is quite a page-turner, and the several twists and revelations throughout do nothing but help ensure you’ll get through this quickly.

What I love most about any of Riordan’s books — whether he’s writing them or they’re presented under his imprint — is the universal message of good overcoming evil, acceptance of everyone’s differences, and that you can accomplish anything if you work together. These are the kinds of messages that kids — and adults — need to remember, and they’ll never get old for exactly that reason.

The Storm Runner is available now! You can order it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. And don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads list.

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