Solid & engaging start to new series based on Norse myth
[a:Tessa Gratton|3111338|Tessa Gratton|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1328563756p2/3111338.jpg] begins her new series, The United States of Asgard, with [b:The Lost Sun|13021366|The Lost Sun (The United States of Asgard, #1)|Tessa Gratton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1362068810s/13021366.jpg|18183974], a tale of two teenagers and their race to find and save the sun god, Baldur the Beautiful. Soren Bearskin has always feared the fire in his chest, the berserking, that might lead to a murderous rampage like that of his father. Conversely, Astrid Glyn, a young prophetess, lives in the shadow of her mother’s great seething and seeks to embrace it. When fate throws them together and the country erupts in chaos after Baldur goes missing, the two strike out on a cross-country trek to find the missing god and return him to his rightful place.
[b:The Lost Sun|13021366|The Lost Sun (The United States of Asgard, #1)|Tessa Gratton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1362068810s/13021366.jpg|18183974] is a solid and engaging start to Gratton’s new series, and its strength lies in the writing and the depth of emotion and conflict depicted in the characters. Set in an alternative United States filled with the creatures of Norse myth, this is a story that could have easily been overshadowed by the flash and action often associated with retold myths. Instead, however, this is a novel (and likely a series) about the characters, their struggles, and their humanity. Soren, Astrid, and Baldur are all sympathetic characters, but Soren is especially so; the dilemma that Soren faces as a berserker feels genuine and heart-wrenching. While there is a romance, it’s not the focus. This is foremost a story about friendship, loyalty, self-discovery, and self-definition. When romantic moments did occur, I also felt twinges of swoon despite the too-quickly-realized romantic connection.
Having said that, though, this novel also excels at its interpretation of Norse myth, even when playing loosely with the original tales. I enjoyed reading about this reimagined U.S. where mortals walk among demi-gods, gods, and Valkyries. The writing is rich and full of description that allowed me to easily envision every setting and situation, from dilapidated farmhouses with trolls inside to the emotional conflict roiling in Soren's mind. The story then concludes with a bittersweet ending that avoided the easy solution, which I also appreciated.
Even with these strengths, there were a few instances in which I longed for more. The romance and some friendships developed quickly and a bit unbelievably; I wish there had been more development in the initial stages of each relationship. The mythology, including the trickery involved at the climax, was a bit hard to follow at times, and I was grateful that I had at least some background in Norse mythology. And, while I love Gratton’s style, the abundance of descriptors and metaphors/similes became noticeable and distracting at times.
Regardless of these small qualms, [b:The Lost Sun|13021366|The Lost Sun (The United States of Asgard, #1)|Tessa Gratton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1362068810s/13021366.jpg|18183974] is a winning start to a new series with a unique and relatively unexplored mythos, and I’m looking forward to the coming books in the series. Norse mythology is likely to be the next big thing, and I’m glad Gratton is in on the front end of it. Highly recommended to fans of [a:Maggie Stiefvater|1330292|Maggie Stiefvater|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1359424840p2/1330292.jpg] and [a:Brenna Yovanoff|3023658|Brenna Yovanoff|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1261685101p2/3023658.jpg].
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.