Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Review: Aru Shah and the Song of Death

Aru Shah and the Song of Death 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love's bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn't playing Cupid. Instead, they're turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies. If that weren't bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn't find the arrow by the next full moon, she'll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good. 

But, for better or worse, she won't be going it alone. 

Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they'll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn't at all who they expected. 

I loved the first book in this series because it was so much fun, and I loved getting to know all of the mythology and legends throughout it was just a super epic quest okay. This series is the perfect combination of humour, mythology and action and this new instalment doesn't disappoint. 

Oh Boo, how I've missed your snarky attitude...and I missed it even more seeing as we barely saw him this book! The plot doesn't hang about as we dive straight in with a zombie attack, Aru and Mini making use of their new training and kicking ass and we're immediately presented with a conundrum before embarking on our new quest. 

In the first book, we were introduced to the world, the characters, the mythology and so on while embarking on a quest. This book delves deeper in to everything, throws up some new surprises and of course the stakes are high because they're blamed for the theft and if they don't get the bow and arrows back...they're going to be booted out of the Otherworld. 

Aru...I love her okay. "Would I ever wear denim on denim?" she makes me wheeze. She and Mini as a team though...their banter...I just love them okay. But poor Aru struggles a bit in this book with jealousy and dealing with Brynne, not to mention being worried she isn't really a hero and will disappoint everyone and I just wanted to give her a big hug. Fair warning we don't see much of Mini in this book for a spoilery reason which I was kind of sad about but considering Aru got on the least well with Brynne it was necessary for the two of them to bond. 

Brynne is the newest Pandava and she doesn't really make the best impression. She attacks Aru and is kind of, sort of, a little bit rude. She came across quite arrogant and I was waiting patiently for her to reveal the heart of gold I figured she had hidden somewhere, but for the first part of the book? Bad Blood was she and Aru's theme song. The one time she rubbed me the wrong way was when she said any god would acknowledge their offspring if they were worthy, and it was a bit of a low blow and she does make a few uncalled for "I'm better than you" comments but not long after the made the former comment...well. If you take in to account her bangles it gives you some insight in to her psyche. It's not long before we get to see and understand why Brynne is so prickly and defensive, and then we get to see the real Brynne. She thinks with her stomach and she can really put it away! She also kinda reminded me of a character but I can't put my finger on it? Maybe Thor? Just with her attitude/personality, and the fact she's forever like "punch first ask questions later". Either way, we slowly peel back the prickly layer to her, like with a conker, and she warms up to Aru and we get to watch the two of them bond and their developing bond was excellently done! 

Aiden...what a nice surprise to see you here. I wasn't sure how I felt about him in the beginning because I couldn't remember how I felt about him from the previous book. But we get to know him well and truly in this book, including his little power and his LOTR nerdiness which was a giant plus in my opinion and was almost enough to counteract the minus of his hugely obvious, awkward, friend-zoning. I was so curious about his motivations, and sympathised with him so much when I realised what he was up to. 

Interestingly, there are some additional powers revealed for the girls along with some additional history and background to their past selves which come as a surprise to us as well as the characters and I feel like in the first book we saw the surface of everything and in this book we get to delve in deeper to the characters we've already met, while meeting the new ones and having the Pandavas fleshed out even more for us. 

Of course the thing I love most about this book, aside from the snark and the adventure, is all of the mythology. I'm a sucker for it, I always want to know more so I loved getting to see even more of it in this book! We get to meet the Naga, gods Agni and Kamaveda and bask in even more mythology and legends as we get their backstories and histories and I was just....basically completely in my element reading this! There's no such thing as too much mythology in my opinion and Chokshi weaves it in to her narrative perfectly, in different ways so you're not being told endless reams of information. She uses it to bring her world to life perfectly, and to intrigue you. Gotta say, Varuni and Varuna were hilarious, "I hate quality time" says every kid ever after being banned from something and told that as a consolation prize. 

The snark and humour were once again, on point. I spend so much time chuckling away at this book and of makes me face palm quite like Aru does sometimes! Not to mention all of the pop culture references! In particular I screeched at Mulan and Lord of the Rings and was generally having the time of my life. I just love how Chokshi combines excellently timed humour without taking away from the more serious and emotional moments we have and the inner struggles of Aru. 

There's a nice pace to the story, things move nicely, there's plenty of magic and vivid and mind blowing settings to be awed by. The writing once again pulls you in to the world and drags you along on the adventure too, taking us to some interesting, fun and most importantly, vividly described places. There's humour and movie references smoothly scattered throughout. Aru wrestles with her doubts about herself and comes out the other side with a weight lifted which was nice to see, Aru's always been a character you can relate to and empathise with. But I also feel like all three girls struggle with a moral issue in this book and have their perspectives changed a little...their eyes opened a little wider to how the world can really be...sometimes you have to make tough choices. They realise not everything is black and white, and mature a little in this book. I'm going to be interested to see if that's going to have a part to play in future struggles. 

Alongside bonding with Brynne, we also see them bond with Aiden who's now part of our squad and I hope we have him involved in the adventures in the future! Plus we get another new member of our group in Hira, our new shapeshifting friend who I'm excited to see more of! There's more magic and mythology, legends and gods and goddesses, and we have a nice amount of action to go with the adventure. All building up to a nice, epic battle which comes to a satisfying least until the ominous text message and the dream which paves the way for the third book and leaves you with a lingering taste of anticipation...and in my case hunger. Thanks Brynne. 

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