Book Review: Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality by Roshani Chokshi

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The Pandavas only have until the next full moon to stop the Sleeper from gaining access to the nectar of immortality, which will grant him infinite power. But how can Aru, Mini, and Brynne hope to defeat him without their celestial weapons? The Sleeper and his army are already plundering the labyrinth, and the sisters can’t even enter. Their quest to get in will have them calling on old friends, meeting new allies, and facing fearsome trials, like…performing in a rock concert? When the moment of confrontation finally arrives, it’s up to Aru to decide who deserves immortality, the devas or the asuras. The most unexpected answer will come from a most unexpected place.

More surprises and delights, gods and demons, and laughs and tears await in this immensely satisfying conclusion to the wild ride that began with the lighting of a lamp.

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And finally the second longest series I’ve read in many years comes to an end, the only one before this being Throne of Glass. But when I first started ToG, I had the first six books in my hand and only had to wait a couple of years for the finale. But for this series, once I finished the first, I have diligently waited for every sequel to release and have loved jumping into this world again and again. I am very bad at keeping up with sequels these days, but this is one series (can’t believe it’s middle grade too) which I haven’t been able to let go of coz it’s too precious to me. And I can finally say all the waiting and this journey has been worth it.

There’s really not much I can say newly about the writing or characters that I haven’t already rambled on about in my previous four reviews. But this was a great ending, where the author let all her characters feel helpless and hopeless, and when they felt they had nothing left to give or lose, the author gave them all the courage to dig deep within themselves to discover their true strength. It was really heartening to see each character overcome their deepest fear to do what they felt and knew was right. Even after all these books, this finale is not short of new quests or adventures and we get one after the other till the end, including the war we have all been waiting for since the beginning.

The writing had its joyful moments even amid despair and that’s what makes this series so much fun to read. And I always treasure the stories from Hindu mythology that the author tries to throw light upon in each book – here we meet more of the figures from our myths who are forgotten or whose stories aren’t told in the they want like the many apsaras, Urmila and even Jambavan. We also get glimpses of some of our old favorites from the previous books and that was lovely. And I feel the way the author ended the war was very satisfying and embodied the overall theme of this series – that everyone deserves to be loved and remembered and respected for who they are. And there was exactly one small phrase/incantation in Telugu and I’m gonna remember the joy I felt at reading it forever.

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In the end, I may not always be a fan of the middle grade age group of books but that’s mostly because I’m too old for them, but this is the exact kind of storytelling I like in MG – a super fun way to explore the myths and stories of a culture or religion (in this case Hinduism), a great group of characters who give us all the found family feels, lots of adventures and tests to pass, and ultimately the lovely writing which is funny and poignant and keeps us entertained throughout. I had a gala time through this series, remembering the joy of my childhood discovering these age old stories, and I hope everyone who picks this up will feel the same. 

5 star

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