Author: Tessa Gratton
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Date: Available now
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade: B
Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard.
Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.
When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.
Hmmmm. That was different. Not bad different, just different.
I don’t like it. No, I take that back. I don’t like the giant face on it. It makes the cover ugly. And the title was ok until I saw what the original title was. New Songs of Asgard? Hello, awesome title. Oh well…..::sighs::
What’s the Story?
So, this book has given me work to do. In the form of research. About Norse mythology. I mean, I know a smidgen about it, but now I want to know a LOT about it. I’m seriously going to get some books on it. I’m inspired!
At first, I wasn’t sure that I would like this book. I mean, the description was awesome and a book about a teen berserker? Yes, please! But when I started reading, it felt….disjointed at first. The names seemed weird and out of place and it didn’t feel organic. And then, suddenly, it did. I guess I needed some time to get used to the new names and references in the book, because after a while, it all felt natural.
The premise for this book is that the U.S. is modern, but it’s part of the ancient Viking culture. The Norse gods are real and they live in the U.S. and people sort of interact with them. Soren Bearskin is the main character and narrator. Is that a great name or what?? He is a berserker, like his dad, but he doesn’t want to be one. His dad went crazy and berserked in the middle of a shopping mall, causing the SWAT team to come gun him down, all in front of Soren.
A berserker, if you are not familiar with the term, is a Viking warrior who worked himself into a complete frenzy and rage to go into battle, so it seemed as if they were going crazy and leaping into the fight. Because of their rage, they were difficult to defeat. They are often described in the Germanic epics and sagas. Now, in modern times, if you start displaying the signs of a berserker, you have to get this thing tattooed on your face so that people will know to steer clear of you. For this reason, Soren is a bit of a loner and people really don’t want to have anything to do with him.
Until he meets the girl, of course. Astrid shows no fear of Soren, and suddenly he finds himself on this quest with her across the country in search of the god, Baldur. It’s a pretty typical adventure/quest, but all the elements of Norse mythology are what really gave it that extra something. In spite of the bad case of insta-love between Soren and Astrid, I found myself rooting for them. I mean, who doesn’t like a couple named Soren and Astrid??
I enjoyed all the references to Norse gods and to the ideas of Valhalla and the threat of the start of Ragnarok. (Just go look that crap up on Wikipedia if you don’t know what it is!) Of course, the image of Soren as a young Chris Helmsworth (Thor!!) seriously helped my enjoyment of this book, but by the end of the book, I found that I really wanted to see what would happen next. So, in spite of a slow beginning and some jarring use of anachronistic vocabulary, this book gave me enough cool Norse references and interesting adventure to keep me reading into the second book.
Ok, I had a lot of fun with this soundtrack and did something completely different. So, here for your listening pleasure is a mix of Nordic music, both ancient and modern. Yeah, I don’t understand any of the words either, but it sounds awesome, right?
The Dreaming ‘Ere the World Ends by Helene Bøksle
Trøllabundin by Eivør
Ólafur Liljurós an Icelandic Folk Song
I Riden Så by Gjallarhorn
The Secret Path by The Moon and the Nightspirit
Sólstafir by Fjara
Ólavar Riddararós by Valravn
The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is a B. It started out a little rocky, but eventually smoothed out into a fun and interesting adventure…..with visions of Thor in my head! I’m interested to see what will happen next.