I first read Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi in April 2018, and this review was originally posted on my Goodreads account then. Some edits and expansions have been made to this review.
This book is similar to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and other books by Rick Riordan — by design. But the point is, if you enjoy Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, or Magnus Chase, you will probably be interested in this!
Aru Shah and the End of Time is an entertaining adventure through the world of Hindu mythology. It has good characters and an engaging plot — overall, it’s an enjoyable ride.
Aru is a tween girl with a tendency for stretching the truth. Her big mouth gets her in trouble, however, when she accidentally frees a demon that freezes time for most people. It is then she learns that she is the reincarnation of a Pandava warrior and has to stop the demon herself (with the help of a couple friends, of course).
The characterization is strong in this book — Aru is smart, witty, and opinionated. She has a lot of fire in such a small body, and that was fun to see. Her bright, strong personality makes the reader root for her, cheer for her, and hurt with her. The other main characters — Mini, as well as their sort-of sidekick whose identity I’ll not mention here, as it could be considered a spoiler — are also well-written. Both are given depth, backstories, and opportunity for growth.
On the other hand, the lessons/themes (especially the main one of using your imagination for good rather than to lie) are pretty on-the-nose in their presentation. But then again, this is a book for middle-schoolers. It could just also be the author’s style (she is a new author to me, which is always intriguing). The “girl power” elements are also pretty un-subtle, but for young girls — especially who know the mythology — would likely respond positively to seeing themselves represented as heroines like this. Honestly, I think most tweens would really like this.
In the end, Aru Shah and the End of Time is a book that would be easily recommended for middle-schoolers (or people like me, who read anything and everything mythology-related after Percy Jackson got them hooked). The elements of Hindu mythology are respectfully represented, as far as I can tell. The characters are well-rounded and developed. The themes are nice ones, even if their execution isn’t particularly expert. And — possibly most importantly — the adventure is engrossing and magical.
Overall rating: 7.5/10
Have you read Aru Shah? What did you think? Or, what’s your favorite modernized mythology story?