The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 2) by Rick Riordan
Disney-Hyperion, 2016. 978-1423160922
Synopsis: How do you follow up almost starting Ragnarok? Well, in my case, you do it by hastening it. I know what you’re thinking: Magnus, how do you hasten the end of the world? Answer: Because Loki. The God of Mischief has something mischievous up his sleeve (metaphor, since he’s y’know, tied to a rock with poison being dripped in his face presumably not wearing much clothing) and he’s gotten not only my Uncle Randolph roped in, but he’s using his kids as pawns too. Which is bad news for Sam since she’s the one that seems to have the most to lose – even in a best case scenario.
Why I picked it up: I like wise-cracking teens and Norse Gods. Especially together.
Why I finished it: I mentioned in another review that Riordan’s books seem formulaic; while this one isn’t any different in terms of the formula department, Riordan has at least mixed it up a little for his readers by going a little bit more outside the box with his characters. They feel more rounded somehow, like even though they are involved in this supernatural world there is still the real world to contend with as well. The fluidity with which the real world relates to the supernatural seems much more urgent and apparent, perhaps because of the juxtaposition between Magnus and Sam. Magnus is dead, but can still cross over to the real world while Sam is still alive and can cross into the world of the dead. Sam still has family and school and everyday teen problems to deal with on top of whatever supernatural duties go along with being a Valkyrie, helping ground the reader even as we are rocketing among the Nine Worlds. Magnus’s wit and sarcasm add a certain spin to the dire situations in which our characters seem to find themselves, keeping the reader eager for the sort of tongue-in-cheek style that has defined the protagonist. I think it’s somewhat poignant that Riordan has introduced a gender fluid character to the cast – it shows he’s keeping with the times and getting in touch with his audience. Really I think what I got most out of this volume is the idea that we might not be able to change where we came from, but we can define who we are in a way that is true to ourselves and how we want the world to see us. We don’t all fit the labels that society wants to place on us – we need to be able to defend our identities and be comfortable in our own skins. We all need to have confidence in who we are and what we believe in, even if it might seem strange or hard to understand. And on the flip side, we need to be understanding and supportive of those around us, even if we don’t always agree with their point of view – that’s how I see it, in any case. It’s a surprisingly fast read considering the book is a hefty 480 pages and I’m eager to see what new adventure and danger Magnus and his friends will face when the third book comes out in the fall.
Other related materials: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1) by Rick Riordan; The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3) by Rick Riordan; Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Norse by Leonard Everett Fisher; Usborne Illustrated Guide to Norse Myths and Legends by Cheryl Evans and Anne Millard, illustrated by Rodney Matthews; Favorite Norse Myths retold by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Troy Howell; Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love, and Revenge by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Christina Balit; D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths by Ingri D’Aularie and Edgar Parin D’Aularie; The Blackwell Pages books by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr; The Sea of Trolls trilogy by Nancy Farmer; The Usborne Book of Greek and Norse Legends illustrated by Rodney Matthews; Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan; The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan; The Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan; The Kane Chronicles books by Rick Riordan