Published by Atom, Little Brown on May 7th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
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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.
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, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.
However, 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--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.
The Gods Are Dead
In Blackwell, South Dakota, all the children know their Norse mythology. The legends of Thor and the Valkyries are as common place in this small town as tales of Santa and the Easter bunny. However some know the truth…the gods may have died, as their legends say, but not before they sired children of their own. And those bloodlines continue to this day, in this tiny hamlet in the northern plains.
The Thorsens are the heirs to one such bloodline, and Matt is the youngest son of the town sheriff. He’s tried all his life to live up to the ideals his family prizes from their heritage: team work, strength and the protection of the weak. However, something about Matt just doesn’t jive with his family. He finds himself struggling with the demands of his lineage, and when he finds out that he’s been selected by fate to save the world from Ragnarok, the Norse version of a Buffy-style apocalypse, he’s not sure he can do it.
But with the help of some unlikely friends, he takes up the mantle as the champion of humanity and begins his quest to save the world.
Norse Mythology Goes Mainstream
When I first learned about this book I was THRILLED!!! I am, without a doubt an avid fan of Melissa Marr’s works. And seeing her pairing up with another YA giant, Kelley Armstrong, made me quickly realize this book was going to be something worth checking out. Plus it brought the promise of a genre of mythology that I haven’t explored ad nauseum! Still, I worried. I mean while I’m geektastic enough to love myths of all stripes, I wasn’t sure how a town that was steeped in Norse mythology would fly from a believability perspective.
My fears were unfounded. Blackwell is just one of many towns that have their own quirks. And a fascination with their Nordic heritage is not that big of a stretch for the folks in South Dakota if you check out their census data. Furthermore, Matt and his friends, Fen and Laurie, are such real kids, filled with such easily relatable fear, hopes and motivations, that I found them compelling to say the least. And as their story unfolds, I found myself sneaking back to this book again and again! *cough*possibly when I was supposed to be caring for my children*cough* If you look at it purely from a gripping storyline perspective, this book is a must read. Throw in a cast of kids you’ll fall in love with and a backstory filled with magic and myths, and folks, I think we can all agree, we’ve got a big winner here!
There’s an amazing website dedicated to this series that has some fantastic information and is the place to look for more as the series grows. You can find it here. It already contains resources for readers and teachers, and more is on its way. I can’t stress enough: I really think this is the kind of book that should be in the hands of every kid from 10 up (and really even younger, as I’m planning to reread it with my 7yo twins this summer). So let me know….does the premise intrigue you as much as it did for me? Leave me a comment to let me know!
And I hope you’ll stop by next week on Saturday, May 11th, when we’ll be hosting Melissa Marr to discuss Loki, one of the gods prominent in the series!