Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

I picked up this book, not expecting to get into it. Not through any fault of its own; my mythology preferences tend to favor that of Greek and Roman stories. Blame my Classics professor of a father. Other mythologies I just don’t know as well (Egyptian, for example) and can’t get into it.

Now, for a moment, suspend everything I just said because I’m going to tell you the reason I was enveloped in this book. Tucker Halloway. Call me a 14-year-old girl, but OMG. Again, in a different way, my bias shows through. Snarky, witty boys are always a plus. But snarky, witty boys who happen to the best friend of the protective older brother, therefore afraid to show his feelings? UM. YES. PLEASE. That recipe is good old-fashioned Jennifer kryptonite. That protective older brother (Graham) ain’t bad either.

Okay, un-suspend the, ya know, actual plot and such. Despite my lack of familiarity of Norse mythology, Paulson made it super, super easy to get. I feel like mythology-based books can either go encyclopedic-info-dump or either explain absolutely nothing and Paulson carefully treads the middle line so even though I’m sitting over waving my Greek and Roman gods flags, I got it. Which is a lot, LOT more than I can say for some other mythology books I’ve tried in the past.

So, while I was totally sucked in and enamored with this snarky boy interest, I did get the feeling that the pace started dragging a little bit in the second half. This might be because the first third is spent in the blissfully confused state that protagonists often are in in paranormal books. Then in the last two-thirds it’s kicked into full speed with lots of stuff happening very fast and it’s hard to catch it all. Or maybe it felt so because there is less Ellie - Tuck interaction and if that is the case, then by all means call me shallow.

Lastly, (and I feel ridiculous for mentioning this) but am I the only one who’s not super wild over the cover? This is kinda minor, but hot blonde girl, yeah, awesome, but she looks so... stationary? I want her in like some cool ninja pose or with some bad ass axe in her hand or something.

All of the good and bad aside, I am totally looking forward to Currently Unnamed Sequel! AND there’s also a mini prequel floating around the internet in Tuck’s POV. It might be here. Also, if you want to read some Tuck with no spoils, check it!

I also recommend Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, Everneath by Brodi Ashton and Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs.

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