A chosen-one adventure through the Southwest.
Zane’s backyard in New Mexico is unique—it has its own volcano. He lives with his mom and their dog, Rosie, and his biggest problem is having to start a new school…until he makes a huge mistake and sets loose ancient Maya god Ah-Puch, also known as the Stinking One. A mysterious girl named Brooks appears at Zane’s school and then at home, and she reveals to Zane that she is a nawal, or shape-shifter, and she’s there to help him fulfill his destiny in a great prophecy. And so begins a race against time as Zane, Brooks, and a growing band of sidekicks race across the Southwest to find Ah-Puch, learn who Zane’s estranged father is, and save the world. As readers accustomed to Rick Riordan’s books will expect, additional Maya gods and magical creatures are revealed along the way. Unevenly paced and complicated by gods with two or three monikers, this second in Riordan’s eponymous imprint may frustrate close readers, but the high stakes will grab kids who just want to turn pages as quickly as possible. Zane is Mexican-American; his limb disability turns out to have a magical origin (not unlike Percy Jackson’s dyslexia), which may well feel like a cheat for readers with disabilities themselves. Nevertheless, Zane’s incredibly appealing kid voice and wry internal interjections make him easy to root for.
Busy—but exciting action and a likable character make up for it. (Fantasy. 10-14)