Review: Aru Shah and the End of Time

“There were so many things I wanted to do!” moaned Mini. “I never even got to shave my legs.”
“That’s your life’s biggest regret?”

Aru Shah and The End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
343 pages
Genre: Fiction, children’s literature
Published by Disney Hyperion, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Indiana
Re-readability: I’m not sure I’ll read this one again but I will go on to read the follow up.

Combining Hindu mythology with modern-day humor and characters, this tale was fantastic from cover to cover.

We first meet Aru at her home, the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, which sounds like one of the coolest places in the world to live. However, Aru doesn’t think so, and lies to her schoolmates about where she was spending school break, saying that her mom was taking her to Paris.

But they found out when they visited the museum and inevitably saw her. Trying to catch her in a lie (and being the nasty, snooty kids they are) they decide to tape her with their cell phones. Aru wants to prove how dangerous (and cool) the museum is so she lights the cured Lamp of Bharata and unleashes the Sleeper, a demon who is bent on awakening the God of Destruction.

Her classmates and her mother become frozen in the museum as the Sleeper attempts to freeze them and everyone else on earth as well.

It’s up to Aru to free them. All she has for help is a bird named Boo and a girl named Mini. Oh, and a killer sense of humor. Though that gets her into trouble more often than not. Mini and Aru must get through the Kingdom of Death to stop the Sleeper, fighting off demons and other creatures along the way.

Aru and Mini are both hilarious and relatable characters who anchor the book through their dialogue. Mini is always nervous about something (usually not having her EpiPen with her at all times or how she hasn’t flossed her usual number of times per day). Aru on the other hand is more impulsive and sarcastic.

However, one of my favorite characters was Shukra, the guardian of the Bridge of Forgetting. Chokshi creates this poignant and tragic backstory for this character that the reader is clearly supposed to feel conflicted about. Usually, I don’t feel particularly sympathetic to these characters, but I couldn’t help it with this one. His narrative (which is all of two pages) starts with “It was said that, when I was born, the sun was so revolted it went into hiding for a full month,” and it ends in such a bittersweet way that I read it twice.

I also enjoyed how much Chokshi brought in characters from traditional Hindu mythology, which I’ve had very little exposure to. Overall, Aru Shah and the End of Time was an excellent adventure story filled with funny dialogue and girl power. Lots of girl power.

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