Aru Shah and the End of Time is the first in a ‘Rick Riordan Presents’ and follows the plot beats of Riordan’s own series pretty faithfully. For fans of Percy Jackson, Jason Grace, Magnus Chase, Carter Kane, and Lester Pappadopoulos (my personal favorite) this book will feel very familiar. Aru is a seemingly normal 12-year old, being raised by a single mom. Like Riordan’s characters, Aru has no real knowledge of her missing parent until the book begins to unfold. Aru’s mother is an archaeologist and leaves Aru alone a lot of the time while she is travelling for work. Aru has been to many schools and doesn’t really fit in anywhere. She has a reputation as a liar and her classmate’s hold it against her. Aru accidentally unleashes an ancient Hindu demon when trying to impress her classmates, and is quickly involved in an adventure that leads her to her true identity as a Pandava- a reincarnation of an ancient brotherhood of legendary warriors. As she works to undo the wrong she has done she uncovers secrets about her own family and encounters a sister that she did not know she had.
The beats are all the same: misfit kid, mysterious monster, sudden awakening of powers, discovery of god-like parentage, discovery of previously unknown or unappreciated sibling. The change in cultures is what really keeps these books fresh. My kids devoured Percy Jackson, and immediately moved from one series to another. Aru Shah is a nice change in that it is a group of deities that I previously knew very little about and that the protagonist is a girl. She is much better written than the girls in Riordan’s series.