The first book in a planned quartet by Roshani Chokshi. I thought this was wonderful and could see this being a life long favorite with children just like His Dark Materials and Harry Potter. Aru Shah is a heroine for the ages and I was so reluctant to put this book down. Not going to lie, there were a few rough spots here and there with flow and a few times I may have went, well this just seems like an obstacle to keep the story going. I loved the mythology, the characters, and the setting. Any book that returns to the Night Bazaar is always going to be an instant win for me.
"Aru Shah and the End of Time" is about 12 year old Aru Shah. She and her mother live in a museum (I know, I may have squealed with delight) called the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture in Atlanta, Georgia (I maybe squealed again). Aru feels a bit lost. Her mother is always gone looking for antiquities, she is at a new school where she feels like she doesn't fit in, and she lies (and feels bad about it). One of her lies catches up to her and three of her classmates arrive at the museum to confront her. Feeling pressured, Aru does something she has been told to never do, she lights the Lamp of Bharata which causes her world to turn upside down. Soon Aru finds out she is one of a reincarnation of brothers (soul, not biological) who are children of the gods. Aru is to seek out her fellow family and see about going against someone called "The Sleeper" before he wakes Lord Shiva and the world ends.
Aru made me laugh. However, will admit that at times I got frustrated with her. Her trying to make excuses for her lies didn't really sit well with me. Chokshi has her face some repercussions for that, but still. She also does something I thought was a necessary cruelty that sounds like it's going to come back at her later in her life. I honestly don't know what choice I would have made.
Not going to lie though, my favorite in this story had to be her fellow soul sister Mina. Mina is me all over. The two of them going off on a quest to save their families and the world was great. I also maybe laughed at the dismay everyone had that girls were doing the saving of the world thing and not boys.
Aru due to being kept in the dark about her past is going purely on instinct. Mina is going based on the fact that her family has known about the pandavas. I also loved that Mina is Filipino and Indian. Her talking about her family and grandmothers was pretty cute.
We have other characters we meet (gods, their chariots, The Sleeper, the Seasons, and the two sisters teacher/mentor/flying pigeon called Boo).
I do have to say that it was kind of a cop out for Chokshi to show us parts of Aru's mother's history but not have them discuss it.
The writing was so good. I became familiar with some of the figures mentioned in this book because I have read and devoured "The Star-Touched Queen" "A Crown of Wishes" and "Star-Touched Stories."
The flow wasn't that great though after the initial start, I think the chapter endings needed to be tighter IMO. It did feel after a while though a little bit to me that Chokshi threw too much in this first book. It just read as overly long in places. Plus a few times Aru and Mina would be upset with each other and it felt like it was just done away with too fast. I get it's the first book though so I let that go.
This book is the same setting as the "Star-Touched Queen" series. We hear about the Night's Bazaar (and get to see it again too!) but we get a new adventure that we realize is going to be dealing with these mythical brothers (now girls it seems) who are going to be reunited. We also get an inkling that something dark may be coming for Aru.
The ending set things up nicely for the next book in the series, very interested to see where that book goes next.