Jul 7, 2013
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.
I’ve read a fair amount of Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr books, and I have to be honest and say that they’re pretty hit or miss for me. For reference, excluding LOKI’S WOLVES, I’ve read 15 of their books between them and maybe legitimately really liked two. I won’t go into too much detail, since this is a review of LOKI’S WOLVES, not their other novels, but there are systematic quirks of the authors that I see throughout their books that contribute to my apathy toward them.
For example, Armstrong’s characters, especially in her YA novels, seem to do a lot of running around in forests without really getting anywhere. (Also, and maybe this is a strange thing to focus on, but I’ve noticed in both her adult and YA books that her characters always go out of their way to mention buying toothbrushes and keeping proper dental hygiene while on the run, which always strikes me as a strange thing to focus on while they’re being chased down.) As for Marr, sometimes I feel like the story gets lost in the writing, and because of that, I begin to feel disconnected and lose my interest.
But there is something about both authors that has me coming back to them. For Marr, it’s the characters, and for Armstrong it’s the sense of adventure.
So, that’s why I ended up picking up LOKI’S WOLVES.
And this strange thing happened when I read it. It was like, the things I disliked about one author’s writing got balanced out by the other author’s. And vice versa. By maybe half way through I thought, “Yes! THIS is how you do a collaboration.” Because, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book written by multiple authors that I’ve actually liked. It’s as if each author’s individuality gets stripped when writing with another author, leaving behind something that’s completely generic and lacking a certain spark.
But I think LOKI’S WOLVES worked so well. Admittedly, I tend to overanalyze books when they’re written by multiple authors, trying to figure out what was written by what author. And I did feel like the plot was more reminiscent of Armstrong’s books, whereas some of the characters has a certain Marr feel to them. But I really have no idea.
(Although, I did notice mention of one of the characters wanting to pick up a toothbrush, but that is neither here nor there.)
The story is flat out great. It’s your classic hero-goes-off-to-save-the-world-with-help-of-friends story. Very reminiscent of PERCY JACKSON in a lot of ways, just with Norse myths instead of Greek. But remember, Percy Jackson was not the first to do this (I mean, just look at Odysseus), and I think that classic structure works very well with MG books. However, despite the Percy Jackson comparisons, LOKI’S WOLVES is for sure it’s own thing. First of all, LOKI’S WOLVES is third person and alternates between three different perspectives, instead of Percy Jackson’s first person. But the biggest difference I think would have to be that LOKI’S WOLVES has more of an overarching plot continuing over the course of the whole series, whereas Percy Jackson is more episodic (the plots between books don’t really have anything to do with one another, even if there are overarching things happening throughout); the plot of LOKI’S WOLVES isn’t wrapped up nicely at the end of the book—it keeps going.
The basic plot is that the end of the world is approaching, Ragnarok, according to Norse myth. I believe the exact words in the book were “Fimbulwinter is coming.” (Um, “winter is coming”? Even unintentional references to GAME OF THRONES gets an automatic thumbs up from me . . . even if it is a part of the whole Norse mythology stuff.) Matt Thorson, descendant of the actual Thor, is chosen to save the world and stop Ragnarok. This is just slightly surprising, considering he’s considered a bit of a disappointment to his family, who don’t think he acts the way a Thorson should act.
What I appreciated about this novel is that while it is at the heart about Matt’s mission, the story itself it not just about it. Matt can’t do this alone. Like I said, this novel is told through three different perspectives—Matt Thorson, Fen Brekke, and his cousin Laurie Brekke. I liked having those different perspectives because it shows that stories like this are about more than just the “heroes.” Fen and Laurie are heroes on their own right, working right alongside Matt and experiencing their own journeys.
The book is just plain fun, and the writing, as always with these two, is solid. I liked the Norse myths, and I liked watching the characters struggle with the myths, wondering if they’re doomed to repeat the past, or if they can work together to change things for the better. Having that internal struggle is very important to this kind of book because the internal struggle drives the action. (And the action itself it a lot of fun.)
I think the only negative for me is that I didn’t really like the plot point that the novel ended on. I thought it was a bit abrupt. And I would have liked to have seen more happen to advance the larger plot (of Ragnorak approaching).
So I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves action/adventure MG, myths, and Percy Jackson.
An Enjoyable Read, Well Written, Recommended