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Percy Jackson Fans Take Note...
on October 3, 2012
Originally reviewed at: [...]
My son seems to have inherited the "avid reader" gene from me and we tend to like many of the same things in books. For example, he's a big fan of the Percy Jackson series and so am I. When "The Hunger Games" hit the big screen and all of his friends were going to see it, I told him I'd take him once he read the book. He did, and then read "Catching Fire" right after. So I am always on the lookout for books that I think might interest him. Later this month we are going to post a joint review of a Halloween themed book which I am super excited about. When Candace over at CBB Book Promotions told me about the upcoming tour for the MG book, "The Serpent's Ring," I signed on. One of the things that intrigued me about the book was that it is loosely based on a Norse mythological story. I know quite a bit about Greek and Roman mythology, but am not as fluent in Norse. I'm happy to say that "The Serpent's Ring" is an action packed tale filled with many characters and an engaging plot that I think will be a hit with the upper elementary and middle school set. Especially BOYS.
"The Serpent's Ring" is what I would call a "boy book." The narrator, 14 year old Evan, like Percy Jackson, is a character I think many boys can relate to. Evan is curious and looking for adventure. He's easily bored so he likes to keep busy. He's irritated by his older sister, but still worries about her safety. He is brave and wants to do the right thing.
The main characters, Evan and Claire, are 12 and 14 years old. But I have to say that to me they read as younger. I could see Evan as 10 or 12 and Claire as 13 or 14. I'm curious why the ages are bumped up in the book. And by the way, this book is very PG and age appropriate. There are hints of romance and a crush or two, but not much more than that and no adult language. There is action but nothing too graphic or violent.
The Serpent's Ring is your classic hero quest, a plot device that can be found in stories dating back to the epic tale 'The Gilgamesh' some 4500 years ago. We see quest's in everything from 'Jason and the Golden Fleece", to "The Wizard of Oz", to "The Lord of the Rings" and even "Star Wars". In "The Serpent's Ring" Evan and his sister Claire set off on their own adventure to retrieve a ring from a Norse god bent on destroying mankind by flooding the earth to rid it of evil. Along the way they meet many fantastic mythical creatures like imps, giants, trolls, dragons, mer -people, gigantic sea serpents, mythological gods, sirens and sea hags and immortal heroes. This book is also filled with stories of amazing powers, treasure filled underwater grottoes, viking ships and divining lockets.
Author H.B. Bolton goes into great detail to describe the places and things that Evan and Claire encounter on their quest, enough to sweep any young reader up into the mythical realm of Saagas. There are also many fun descriptions of the food the kids try (you know food is a pretty big deal to a 9 or 10 year old.) In fact one of my favorite parts of the book is the Magical Foods Recipe section found at the back. There you can find instructions for the "Woofout Bar" (which will make you talk like a dog for a short time after eating) and the "Fizzy Whizzle." There is also a handy glossary at the end that you can refer to when all the mythical beings and places start to get confusing. LOVE this!
Evan and Claire face many dangerous obstacles on their way to claim the serpent's ring from the Norse god of the sea Aegir and make some unlikely friends as well. I will say that "The Serpent's Ring" is very plot driven, and development of characters takes a definite back seat to story and action. This doesn't always sit well with me but may not be a problem for younger readers. And I do think this book is best suited for the older elementary and younger middle grade reader. I'm not sure that teens or adults would enjoy "The Serpent's Ring" as much.
That being said, it's an interesting start to a new series. Do Evan and Claire retrieve the serpent's ring and stop Aegir from destroying the planet? Do the siblings make it back home? You'll just have to read for yourself to find out:)