WAR OF THE GODS by Lamine Djafi


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Two sons of immortals team up to recover Odin’s spear in this mythology-based debut work of juvenile fiction.

In this ambitious mix of Greek, Indian, Egyptian, Norse, and Roman myths, set in present-day America and various magical realms, Hades is suspected of stealing Odin’s powerful spear. War between Asgard and the Underworld looms. It’s up to the Immortal Bridge—peacekeeping demigods—to prevent the conflict. Assigned to regain the spear are Immortal Bridge members Eric (son of Thor) and new recruit Kai, a homeless teen from Honolulu who learns that Hades is his father. The pair encounters evil and benevolent gods, assorted monsters, and obtuse giants. There are a few scenes of graphic violence (bodies torn apart), but Djafi’s use of humor offers effective leavening. Eric describes his “old man” as the Swiss army “knife of mythology.” Dimwitted, 30-foot-tall giants wear “enough denim to cover the state of Maine.” And a big-bellied, ketchup-stained man at a Burger King morphs into a demon of Hindi lore to attack Kai. The story encompasses Kai’s discovery of his own powers, the mystery of his unknown mother, and a teaser ending that signals more escapades to come. There are entertaining concepts and energy aplenty here. Unfortunately, punctuation errors and run-on sentences detract from the promise of this fantasy tale by a budding young author. While the book’s vocabulary is expressive, the uneven and unpolished text is a major distraction: “Kai bent backwards the spear flew over his head”; “ ‘It’s ok to panic” Eric told him Kai screamed his head off’ ”; “It’s two long tails swayed.” Speakers aren’t always clearly identified; words capitalized on one page are lowercase on others; and tenses shift between past and present when Eric and Kai are introduced. And there are many slip-ups like “rouge gallery” (instead of “rogues’ gallery”); “cyclops” (instead of “cyclists”); and “questionably” (instead of “questioningly”). Illustrations are a jumble of stock art, anime-style figures, and a child’s fuzzily reproduced drawings.

An action-packed, idea-rich adventure for a teen audience that lacks strong editing and visual consistency.

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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