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December 15, 2012

Review: Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie #1) by Ingrid Paulson

Hey guys!

Long time no see! I hope everyone is doing great!:)

I haven't got that much time to read and blog lately, but I should have a few reviews posted soon.


Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie #1) 
by Ingrid Paulson
Published: October 9th 2012
by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages

Goodreads

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

My thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall, I liked it, but sometimes it kind of irritated me, so it took me longer than usual to get through it. I'll get on the details in a bit.

The premise might sound familiar for Young Adult Paranormal books: main characters find out about the existence of a supernatural world and their connection to the supernatural creatures living among them, they get pulled into that world, bad things happen, villain shows up, more dangerous things happen, villain is defeated, characters grow stronger by the end of the book and find out more about them and their past. There's also some romance thrown in into the mix. But despite the familiarity, there was something totally original and very interesting about Valkyrie Rising. First, we have the setting: Norway, then, we have the mythology and the supernatural world intertwined with the human world and then the kickass characters. Fascinating!

The synopsis is a little too spoiler-y for my liking, but there were enough twists and turns in the book to keep me interested and engaged in the story.

Ellie is a normal, LA teenage girl. She has problems with her overbearing, overprotective brother and his too-charming-for-their-own-good best friend, but she manages just fine. And then she goes to her grandmother in Norway for the summer and everything changes.

The village where her grandmother lives is kind of creepy. There are all sorts of rumors around it and people look at Ellie and treat her strangely. And when big brother extraordinaine and his trouble-maker friend join her, things get even more interesting - and downright weird and scary. Because there might be some truth behind the whispers in the village and there might be something supernatural and really creepy about the disappearances of all the young boys in the area. And like worrying about that and about Graham being the next capture wasn't enough, Ellie starts to feel the rising of some dark, strange power inside her and the calls of other mythological beings who prowl around.

While my logical self told me to take the car, something primal within me howled that I’d be faster and safer on foot. Invisible. Once the night air filled my lungs, my instincts were honed to a razor-sharp clarity. I could see each leaf on every tree. The wind whispered secrets, carrying to my ears the footfalls of the squirrels and deer in the forest. I could smell the salt in the air and feel the slightest shift in the wind’s direction. Something was happening to me. It was as electrifying as plunging headfirst into ice-cold water—every molecule of my body was alert, awake, and screaming for action. 

There are many secrets in her family and around that place, but she doesn't get a chance to explore them, because a turn of events thrust her into action and all she can do is fight for her life, for the people she cares about and for the innocent lives that got caught in the crossfire. And that was what I loved the most about this book: the action, the suspense, the mystery, the presence of kickass characters, the mythology beings and their badass, action-movie moves...

“Get away from her!” I screamed as I threw the dagger at the Valkyrie. I hadn’t known I had that kind of violence in me until my fingers relaxed, letting the blade fly. One manicured hand snatched the blade from the air without flinching. 

There was never a dull moment in the second part of the book. Except for Ellie's childish behavior and annoying whiny thoughts, that is. Which brings me to what I didn't love about this book: I couldn't really connect with the main character, Ellie. I liked her when she took action and fought for everyone's safety, when she confronted beings so much older, more knowledgeable and powerful than her, when she stood up for her brother and the boy she secretly loved, but that part of her was too much in contrast with the normal, teenage girl. To me, it felt like that immature side of her was a bit forced (not realistic enough); it was like she was made to act dumb, insecure, stubborn, reckless and whiny because that's how teenagers are supposed to behave, not because that's what she was actually like or that's how she really felt. Does this make any sense? Ugh, what I'm trying to say is that, in my opinion, the change from badass Valkyire who can kill everyone in two seconds flat, face some very powerful beings and a Norse God to a whiny, insecure teenager was too abrupt. Of course, she had plenty of moments of strength, determination and courage and that's when I was cheering her on.

I liked her relationship with Tuck, though. They both have feelings for each other, but they've also known each other forever and they don't want to ruin that or to hurt her brother in the process (infamous player going after his best friend's younger sister and all that), so they don't act on those feelings - not right away, anyway. Their banter was priceless (it kind of reminded me of Daemon and Katy from Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout). And Tuck was pretty badass himself, even though he had his own secrets, mood swings and conflicted emotions. Fun, playful and a real charmer. *swoon*

When I looked at him that closely, at those white teeth framed by that deceptively innocent smile, I knew why Tucker Halloway excelled at getting whatever he wanted—especially from girls. And I couldn’t fathom why he was wasting that particular talent on me when bullying and mockery had always been the accepted currency between the two of us. “What do you want?” I asked, instantly wary. “Shouldn’t you be enjoying the party?” His smile curled up at one corner, proof positive he was up to no good.

“I meant, why play games? I get by just fine on looks alone.” His smile was blinding, driving his point home. “Don’t forget your charming personality,” I said, and my stomach flipped when his grin widened at my words. Making Tucker laugh was the best kind of rush. “I hear modesty is quite the aphrodisiac,” I added.

Graham's condescending, overprotective, patronizing attitude got a little on my nerves too, but overall, I liked the secondary characters. They were all unique and had their own important roles in the story. The grandmother was so awesome! Not what you would expect when visiting old relatives on the other side of the world. *thumbs up*

So, like I said, mixed feelings. I loved the action, the setting, the mythology and the characters most of the time, but there were a few moments when I just wanted to get into the book and shake them senseless. Or to throw the book across the room (thankfully, there weren't many of those moments). The writing is engrossing and it flows naturally, so there's a lot of potential to this series. The only other Valkyries I read about were in the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole, but that's an adult romance series, so things were a bit different. Still, I think it's safe to say that they are some of my favorite supernatural creatures in lit, so I'll probably read the next book in this series when it comes out as well!


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