Rick Roirdan Presents
My children and I are huge fans of Percy Jackson. We absolutely adore The Kane Chronicles and The Magnus Chase Series. Roirdan’s writing style is both intelligent and funny. Though often dealing with darker themes, he keeps the tone light with his keen sense of humor. His books just flow effortlessly and leave us wanting more.
So, when we heard that Rick Roirdan was going to present other young adult books centered on other cultures and mythologies, we knew we were going to love those as well! We trusted that if Rick Roirdan attached his name to these books, that they were bound to be good. And, they were.
The first book we read was The Storm Runner by JC Cervantes, which was published in September of 2018. I enjoyed the Mexican or Aztec mythology. The plot was good, but the characterization of Zane Obispo left something to be desired. It was annoying how fixated he was on his dog and his friend Brooks. This repetitiveness took away from the overall story. We decided not to continue reading this series.
We went back and read Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, which also came out in 2018. I had previously read The Star Touched Queen and fallen in love with her poetic prose. Aru Shah was considerably less flowery in its descriptions, but there was still a great deal of beauty in her words. Learning about Hindu mythology was a great deal of fun and found ourselves looking forward to reading more books in the series as they came out.
I read the Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee. This Korean themed book surprised me by taking place in Space instead of Ancient Korea. I found the Science Fiction twist interesting. My son said this was one of his favorite Rick Roirdan Presents books overall.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia provided us a glimpse into the mythology of African-American and West African Mythologies. While Mbalia’s style is a little bit more dense or difficult, I found his work to be both colorful and creative. The metaphors in the book are incredibly moving. The books could have easily become too heavy handed in dealing with slavery, but Gum Baby’s sass lightens up the tone a great deal and makes the series a fun read.
Then we moved onto Sal and Gabi Break the Universe and Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. This series focused on the idea of a Multiverse with a Cuban twist. It was very different than the other books, which drew on specific myths. The series made me think of Fusion Cuisine. It was a unique blend with personality to spare. There is hint of Santeria or Magic in the book. Though Sal and Gabi have Demigod-like abilities, the focus is more on science than myth. My favorite part? The AI toilet!
Next we tackled Race To The Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, which came out in 2020. The book explores Native American Mythology—specifically Navajo. I had no idea the Navajos had such a complex mythology of their own and was excited to explore that universe. I am not sure what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised.
We finally arrived at Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia. I had only been marginally acquainted with La Llorna. I had seen her on an episode of Grimm, but that was it. This book enlightened me quite a bit. Although the book dragged a bit in the middle, it swelled to a satisfying conclusion. It was interesting the book touched on the real life horrors of racism. And we just loved the little Chupacabra named Bruto. We plan on reading the next book in the series when it comes out.
Next up? City of the Plague God by Sarwatt Chadda. I love Mesopotamia and am looking forward to learning more about their mythology. I have read The Epic of Gilgamesh, but my children have yet to enter this strange and wonderful world. An added bonus is that the theme of plague is particularly relevant right now!