I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi. Therefore, the version I read is just a proof and not the final version, so I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In this sequel to Aru Shah and the End of Time, our protagonist Aru, now somewhat settled as a Pandava and undergoing training, finds herself accused of a crime. Someone has stolen the bow and arrow of the god of love, Kamadeva, and Aru—along with her soul-sister Mini—are the prime suspects. They have ten days to find the thief and the bow, before they are exiled from the Otherworld forever. Oh, and a horde of hypnotized men controlled by the thief will be trapped as zombies forever. So, no pressure for Aru.
It is good to see new character dynamics—Aru and Mini have two new additions to their team in the form of new soul-sister, Brynne, and classmate Aiden. I like them both, and seeing how the girls interact with them as they move from mild distrust to genuine friendship made for a good arc. Sometimes Aru’s denial of having a crush was a little too obvious, but I still like the bond she forges with Aiden just as friends.
Chokshi continues to be a good writer. She has a similar humor to Riordan, or maybe she’s deliberately channeling; I couldn’t decide. Either way, this is a high-stakes plot that still manages to have wacky moments. The plot is a little meandering, but then again, I suppose so are some of the Percy Jackson stories. And it is good to see more figures and locations mentioned in Hindu mythology, which I don’t know much about.
This installment has less on-the-nose “whoo, girl power!” which I found a little too hammered in during the first book. Rather, this book deals a lot with family and the importance to telling both sides of a story. An incomplete picture can create problems. This is an important lesson for young people—well, anyone, really—to learn, and I appreciate how it was presented and handled here.
In the end, this is an entertaining enough sequel. Those who enjoyed the first will like this one as much, and I personally relish seeing stories featuring protagonists and worlds we in America don’t know about.
Overall rating: 7.7/10