Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr eARC (2 stars)
Kel Thursday, August 07, 2014 reviewNetGalley offered old eARC's of Loki's Wolves this spring to drum up press for Book 2. I'm trying to read more Middle Grade, so I picked it up. Many moons later, I finally read it, and I'm sad to say, I'm not impressed. I expect it's trying to be the next Percy Jackson with its Norse mythology base, and there are probably kids who will enjoy it; but it failed to appeal to me as both an adult and a kid-at-heart.
This eARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong, M.A. Marr
Series: The Blackwell Pages#1
Genres: MG, Fantasy, Myth/Legend
Published on May 7, 2013
Published by Little Brown Kids
Final Rating: 2 stars
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters - wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds - all bent on destroying the world. But the gods died a long time ago. Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history - because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. But knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids - led by Matt - must stand in for the gods in the final battle, Matt can hardly believe it. Matt's, Laurie's, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to stop the end of the world.
What I Liked:
- You're never far from the action. Oh sure, they may be riding a bus or sleeping for now, but just wait two or three pages and they'll be fighting for their lives.
- Instead of going the female warrior road (a la Xena or Annabeth), Laurie is a girl who knows little about warfare but refuses to be left behind. She uses her head and becomes a major asset to the team.
What I Didn't Like:
- In general, everyone accepts the magical powers too easily. I wouldn't mention it except that the narration repeatedly throws in your face how unbelievable it should be to these kids, but isn't. Just say they believe in fairies and get on with it.
- The characters are all fairly stereotypical and one- to two-dimensional.
- The fact that these kids have no idea what they're doing and are playing it by ear is evident and, unfortunately, carries over into the feel of the book. I know this isn't uncommon for Middle Grade novels, but I wanted a little more transition and a little less "we conveniently know where to go now" or "we are magically there." The fact that there isn't one main antagonist probably doesn't help this.
- I was non-plussed by the writing. There are three perspectives and instead of enriching the story, what we get are a ton of repeats. Repeated sentiments, repeated history/back story, repeated paragraphs almost verbatim. Worse, all three perspectives engaged in a great deal of "telling." Again, I know more telling thrown in with the showing is common in MG, but it didn't work for me here. It felt lazy.
- All adults are evil and/or absent. I get that it's a kid's adventure book and an adult might cramp their style, but really? Can we have at least one sensible adult besides the mythic creatures riding winged horses?
- The book just ends. We reach a lull in the action. The characters decide where they're going next. The end.
If you know kids looking for their next mythology-meets-modern-kids fix, this is worth a try. It's a quick, easy read, and whatever keeps kids reading, right? I can see older teens and adults getting bored with the repetitiveness and meandering plot, and I probably won't be continuing this series.