What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ingrid Paulson's debut novel, Valkyrie Rising, is about 16-year-old Ellie Overholt, who visits her grandmother in Norway for the summer. Young men around the country are disappearing, and the rumor is that mythological Valkyries -- females who capture young men to be dead "soliders" to take to Valhalla, the afterlife, ruled by Odin -- are responsible. Teens, including Ellie, drink beer and get into physical fights. There's some strong language ("damn," "crap," and "sh--t"). Ellie is uses knives and swords and is shown how to use a gun. There's a romance between Ellie and Tuck, 18-year-old brother's best friend, with brief kissing.
What's the story?
Sixteen-year-old Ellie Overhold vacations at her grandmother's home in Norway for the summer, and her 18-year-old brother, Graham, and his popular friend, Tucker, join her. Tucker has always been kind to Ellie, but their relationship has been hot and cold. While in Norway, she meets Kjell, a young college student and friend of her grandmother's, who warns Ellie that something is happening in Norway -- young men are disappearing, taken by the mythological female warriors known as Valkyries. At first, Ellie doesn't believe the rumors, but when she comes face-to-face with a powerful Valkyrie named Astrid, everything changes. Ellie discovers that she herself is a Valkyrie and that her grandmother has been keeping the truth a secret. When Graham and Tuck arrive, Ellie is worried that she can't keep them safe from being taken. When more and more young men start to disappear, Ellie must take matters into her own hands -- and either join the Valkyries or fight them.
Is it any good?
VALKYRIE RISING IS a book readers will either love or hate. Though the novel's filled with teen angst, fantasy, supernatural elements, and romance, its heart is Ellie. Elements of Norse and Celtic mythology are few and far between. The book could have used much more of the supernatural, the history of the Valkyries, and especially Norweigian culture to make the plot more interesting. Ellie feels a pull toward the Valkyries, who look like supermodels, but only because she's one of them. She never questions why she feels drawn to the violent havoc the Valkyries cause, or her new magical powers, or if Valkyries are even real.
It's wonderful that her brother watches out for her, but his overprotectiveness borders on creepy and goes way beyond sibling advice. Ellie's a big girl and proves that she can handle herself. But Graham, 18, never gives his 16-year-old sis credit and treats her like a child, which irks Ellie, and just might irk readers. The romance between Ellie and Tuck is sweet but feels forced. Early in the novel, Ellie complains about Tuck's egotistical behavior and track record with women, but his supposedly flirty behavior is never shown because from the beginning Tuck only has eyes for Ellie. Valkyrie Rising has an intriguing premise, but falters in the execution.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what makes a good romantic fantasy. Which elements work best in Valkyrie Rising, the romance or the fantasy?
How convincing are the supernatural elements work in Valkyrie Rising?
What do you know of Norse gods and Norwegian mythology? Does this book make you want to learn more?