Author: K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
Genre: Fantasy / Middle Grade
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / Atom
Publication date: May 7 2013
Hardcover/Paperback: 358 pages
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters–wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.
The gods died a long time ago.
Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history–because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt’s classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.
However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids–led by Matt–will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen’s lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.(
Stand alone or series: First in The Blackwell Pages series
How did I get this book: Review copy from the publisher
Format (e- or p-): print
Loki’s Wolves, the first Middle Grade novel of YA heavy-hitters Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong, transfers the Gods and the ideas of Norse mythology to a modern-day setting.
Most people in the small town of Blackwell, South Dakota, are direct descendants of the Norse Gods Thor and Loki. Matt is a Thorsen, and to him, family history and tradition are the most important things in the world. But being descendant of Thor is a not only a matter of pride but as it turns out, a matter of responsibility too. After all, it is Thor who is supposed to lead the Gods in their final battle when Ragnarok – the end of the world – comes. But Thor is dead. All the Norse Gods are dead. So when there are signs that Ragnarok is coming, the leading families of Blackwell come together to find the ones that will stand in for the gods in the final battle.
To his utter dismay, Matt is chosen and now has to stand in for Thor, and to put together a team of new gods to prevent the end of the world (with no help whatsoever from his family). And the first step is to find the other descendants, starting with Loki’s: because if Matt manages to get that god on his side, things might not end up as badly as they have been predicted.
Loki’s Wolves’s main conceit and thematic core are actually pretty awesome and had tons of potential: get a bunch of kids together to fight a big Serpent thingy that will bring the end of the world but also have them question the fact that they must follow old legends and to try to change the outcome of their DESTINY by making their own choices. The most obvious one is to have Thor and Loki fight side by side as friends. The narrative is split between Matt and two of Loki’s descendants, cousins Fen and Laurie, which gives a more diverse tone to the story. Another positive aspect is how both Matt and Fen are constantly trying to protect Laurie because she is a girl and this is presented as an internalised idea that has been passed by their family and Laurie herself is constantly questioning that and acting to prove them wrong. In fairness though, this is not faultless: Laurie also had a tendency to protect and forgive Fen’s constant sexist comments because “that’s how he is”. But I suspect this might be addressed in further instalments.
All that said, it’s amazing how a good idea can be derailed when execution fails. My main problems with Loki’s Wolves were twofold: the sheer amount of suspension of disbelief required to buy into the premise and how underdeveloped the progression of the story was.
With regards to the former, I was obviously prepared to suspend disbelief (Kids! Standing in for Gods! To fight the end of the world!) but WHY exactly are the descendants of NORSE Gods living in small-town America? This is never addressed. WHY exactly must KIDS be standing in for the Gods? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have fully developed adults to take on this fight? There is an attempt at explaining this choice but I thought it was a flimsy explanation at best and a contrived one at worst. My biggest problem though is how the Ragnarok is taken at its most literal. The population of Blackwell knows the end of the world is coming because Volcanoes are erupting and Tsunamis are happening. Therefore: the Midgard Serpent must have broken free of its bonds and is causing all of these natural disasters.
When transplanting these ideas – the Ragnarok, the Serpent that causes Tsunamis – to a contemporary setting it makes little sense to take them at face value as this implies that nature disasters are caused by mythological figures turned real. My point is: this is a Contemporary setting and for all intents and purposes is our world. So what happened to Science? To Geology?
With regards to the progression of the story: things progressed very fast, with little care given to developing storylines or characters. There is a moment in the story when Matt says:
‘After facing a few monsters at his side, they were becoming friends.’
And this basically sums up the story – from facing monsters to becoming friends without a lot of development in between.
I enjoyed reading about the heartfelt connection between cousins Fen and Laurie and how Matt took upon himself to become a leader but there was a redundant presence of those aspects of the novel, with the characters always rehashing these same topics. Not to mention the fact that as Matt met the descendants of the other gods, even those kids who had NO IDEA who they were and why, still accepted the premise that they had to fight a giant Serpent at the end of the world without even questioning it (going back to suspension of disbelief).
All of these combined to make Loki’s Wolves so flat to the point of when something really tremendous happens I felt cold and uninterested.
But the illustrations are kind of amazing.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: You can read an excerpt HERE
Rating: 5 – Meh
Reading Next: The Cydonian Pyramid by Pete Hautman (oh please god, let it be good).
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