Review by: Ivy
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“‘Tales are slippery,’ her mother had often said. ‘The truth of a story depends on who is telling it.’”
Aru Shah is a liar. At least, that’s what her classmates tell her. So, when three of them come to the museum where she lives to catch her in a lie, Aru is desperate to prove them wrong. She does the only thing any reasonable pre-teen would do: light a lamp that supposedly will wake an ancient power and bring about the end of time. The Hindu stories her mom used to tell her couldn’t possibly be real, right?
As Rick Riordan says in the forward, “Aru is pretty sure it’s going to be a boring day. Yikes. She is SO wrong.” Prepare for royal pigeons, pretentious gods, fantastical Costcos, many parking lots, and a superheroine in superhero pajamas.
Aru Shah and the End of Time is an example of perfect kid lit. It’s funny, it’s magical, it’s exciting, it’s diverse, and most importantly of all, it deals with some pretty scary stuff. And not just death, but thing like forgetting, feeling alone or worthless, lying, bad parents, and doing the wrong thing. Yeah, these all sound like something that’s already been tackled on Sesame Street, but let me see you not cry when Aru begins listing all the things she can’t remember anymore, or when the magical palace talks about how much it missed being lived in.
Something I love about Riordan’s book, and now Aru Shah, is that they validate all religions and beliefs in the simplest and most wonderful ways, tackling a huge issue in just a sentence or two. A good example for Riordan’s books is in The Lightning Thief when Percy asks, “Wait, you’re telling me there’s such a thing as God?” and Chiron responds with “Well now, God- capital G, God. That’s a different matter altogether. We shan’t deal with the metaphysical.” It’s similar to a bit in Aru Shah when Boo says “But let’s not get into the question of metaphysics. Many things can co-exist. Several gods can live in one universe.”
Another reason at Aru Shah is fantastic is because of its wonderful author, Roshani Chokshi. I had the honor of getting to talk with her when she came to my school, and even though the conversation was mostly centered around The Great British Baking Show, you can tell that Roshani loves what she does by the pure joy radiating out of her being. (I would like to formally apologize for ruining the magic of Communion bread for her, I’m sure there is some out there that tastes like sparkles). Roshani also talked about how she poured a lot of herself into her characters, and I was delighted to find out that the “I know where you live!” scene was based on an actual interaction she had when she met her now-fiance in high school.
All-in-all, Roshani Chokshi is a wonderful person, Aru Shah and the End of Time is a wonderful book, and everyone, no matter their age, who enjoys a creative, confident, and entertaining story about friendship, magic, and the magic of friendship should read it.