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I have a long history with Rick Riordan. He’s so much fun to read and I absolutely love Percy Jackson, his voice just makes me giggle. I am planning to do a whole run of aaaaall the Percy books, and the Carter siblings, and Magnus Chase. I haven’t even gotten to Apollo yet. Since I’ll be doing those forever, I decided to start with Aru instead.

Aru Shah and the End of Time is the first book of the Pandava Quintet by Roshana Chokshi. This series is published under Rick Riordan Presents, an imprint that features mostly mythical-related works by other authors who are not part of the Riordanverse (sounds like Percy made that name up). The protagonist is Aru, a 12 year old girl who struggles to fit in. She is very good at telling stories and has a huge imagination, so she lies to get herself out of trouble and usually ends up making things worse. She feels disconnected from her mom because she travels for work all over the world and leaves her behind at her home atop the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. One day, some classmates realize she didn’t go to Paris for break like she told them, but is instead at home in her Spiderman pajamas. She invites them in and tells them she will light an ancient lamp and they will be super impressed when they see what happens. She knew the stories that said an evil spirit was trapped inside and of course she would never believe that. But then she releases the Sleeper. Next thing she knows, everything around her is frozen in time except her.

As the story progresses, we get to meet Boo, a pigeon looking for redemption. We find out Aru is a Pandava, the reincarnation of one of the five brothers of legend. If she already had a hard time believing the legends from the museum were true, she had an even harder time believing she was more than just a lonely liar. We also meet Mini, a mildly hypochondriac and very anxious girl about the same age. Her brother was supposed to be the Pandava, but when the Sleeper froze everything around her, she was the only one still awake. She had learned a lot by watching her parents train her brother so she is very prepared. This causes even more self-doubt and loneliness in Aru, why wouldn’t her mom train her too?

Aru, Mini and Boo set out to find some magical items and attempt to entrap the Sleeper again, and I won’t spoil the story any further. I really like that they start off with no powers whatsoever and need to bare-knuckle figure things out, it makes them so brave I want to give them a hug and hot chocolate. The themes of the story are being true to yourself, finding value in what you are and can accomplish, learning to trust others, and the struggle that sometimes happens between fitting in and loving yourself.

I think Roshani Chokshi did a fantastic job in world building; they go to a market to obtain supplies for their travels and you can see mythical creatures from other cultures (which totally blew my mind the first time I saw it in the Riordanverse, I ran around telling anyone that would hear me omg omg omg!), so I feel like I just ate a happy piece of candy. The world feels huge, like we just walked by a door that was slightly open and there’s a really awesome room we only got to see for a second. I’m really looking forward to reading the next book.

For science!