SUMMARY: Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.
One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows-a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.
The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .
WHAT I THOUGHT: As an author, Riordan’s metaphors always leave me in awe for their creativity. A few examples from the beginning of Magnus Chase include:
. His only dash of color was a striped red-and-white scarf wrapped around his neck and spilling off his shoulders like a melted candy cane
. Like he’d been running through a dirty hurricane
. The bare tree branches looked like they’d been dipped in glass
. His baffled expression reminded me of a substitute teacher’s: I know I was hit by a spit wad, but I have no idea where it came from.
. His tie looked like it had been tied while he spun in total darkness.
. Something tugged at the back of my skull…like a magnet trying to pull out an old memory
. A scab was ripped off my brain, exposing raw memories
. Statues silhouetted in the upstairs windows like petrified ghosts
. My skin crawled with invisible beetles
. Old maps looked like maps a school kid in medieval times had made for social studies
. His nose wrinkled as if he detected a mildly unpleasant odor
. Memories from that night spun through my head like a sickening kaleidoscope
. A punch in the face would have been less painful
. “You missed a pedestrian, you want to go back and hit her?”
That said, I found myself disappointed at how the book flowed. The first 25% is Magnus before he dies and it moved quickly and we get a good understanding of Magnus’ life for the last two years as Riordan reveals snippets through various interactions and sarcasm. This was brilliant.
But as soon as Magnus dies, I found the pace dragging and I grew bored as we acclimated to Valhalla with too much description and considerably less action. It just did not feel as brilliant as the beginning. I saw Riordan’s imagination at work, but it felt disjointed and as if he was just throwing out wild and crazy situations.
Magnus must go on a quest to save the 9 worlds of the Norse afterlife from destruction. Having ventured through Hades with Percy and Annabeth, the quest theme felt stale. I think we’ve been spoiled, for while this book was a different vein from Greek and Roman mythology, it felt like the same plot used once more. I have no suggestions how to shift it, but I felt like I knew how everything would turn out before I got there. Also, I felt like the ending conflict resolved way too easily for Magnus. It was clear he had a major problem on his hands, but when friends show up to save the day, for me it ruined what could have been.
Overall, I give this book 4 stars – the writing was brilliant, but the plot felt overused.
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