Ever pick up a book because it has a certain something that calls to you yet you have no idea what it might be about? It might turn out to be horribly painful to get through and yet you can't help but check it out of the library anyway? That's exactly what happened with Loki's Wolves. I was just browsing the library like I normally do, searching for something brand new to read. Something different. Something that might help pass the time. Well, I saw Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong (Kelly Armstrong) and M.A. Marr (Melissa Marr) on the shelves and thought, "Loki!? Yes! I love Norse mythology AND a book about Loki? MUST READ." (Not even joking. That's what happened. Ah~ The mind of a fangirl.) So I grabbed it and took that baby home!
Of course, I read it and what I got was nothing I was expecting it to be. This turned out to be one of those books that you think is going to go one way and changes about halfway through. It's one of those books that I like to call "Surprise Reads" where you thought you were going to end up hating the book but really end up loving it. I don't read many books like that, but this one? Oh man! I thought it was just going to be your typical Middle-Grade adventure where nothing much happened except mediocre battles that eventually lead up to the main characters "saving the world." Although it starts off that way, it definitely does not END that way! Yes, there was action and adventure and, yes, they are trying to save the world, but what you don't expect is the deep character interactions and the dark turn the book takes towards the end. I really felt that I was reading another book than the one I started to read at the beginning. Really amazing turn of events if you ask me!
I bet you're all wondering what this book is all about. Well, never fear! Rain is here to give you a heads up! >:3
The book tastes place in Blackwell, South Dakota where all you hear about are myths. Norse myths to be specific. It's all the rage since most of its residents are descendants of either Thor or Loki (I know~ I squeed, too~). Matt, descendant of Thor, is then told how Ragnarok is about to happen and he must stop it. If you know about Norse mythology, it's quite common for a lot of the myths to center around Ragnarok, or as I like to call it "when the world goes BOOM!" Matt, along with other descendants of gods (Loki's descendants, Fen and Laurie), must figure out a way to collect Mjölnir, a shield, some other doodads, and prevent the world from coming to an end... if they could survive that long, that is.
Doesn't that sound like every other Middle-Grade book out there? Well, trust me. It's not.
Armstrong and Marr did a fantastic job co-writing this book! I was left speechless by the end of it with how good it was (that's a lie; I was left screaming and flailing and cursing the fact that the sequel wouldn't be out until May but you get my drift~). I can tell that they worked really hard to bring this book to life. Of course, it didn't start off that way. The book did have some consistency issues. Like how one character would have their arms folded across their chest for a bit only for them to do it again without them ever having stopped in the first place. It was strange and it was something that you do notice but not enough to ruin the story, in my opinion. However, I actually had a bit of difficulty getting into this book at the beginning. Reason being was I felt like this was like any other adventure book out there and certainly if I wanted to read an adventure I would have picked something a lot better than this, right? Also, it didn't help that in the first few chapters, the writers made it feel like they were talking down to the readers. As if children couldn't read the same things that adults could because of their age. That always was something that didn't sit right with me. A child should be allowed to read whatever the hell they feel like reading! Age shouldn't be a factor in that because they deserve to know what's out there in the world. They deserve to have knowledge! So when I saw that this was being dumbed down because it was meant for a "younger audience" I was a bit furious. I thought that, given that they don't normally write Middle-Grade, that these authors had no idea what they were doing.
Boy, am I glad that turned out to be false!
Both authors came together and created an amazing story with wonderful characters in the end that left me wanting more. Yes, they had a bit of a rocky start but that "talking down to the audience" I was talking about went away after the first few chapters. I feel as if they were trying to find the right tone for the book and that's why it took some time to get used to their writing. Once they got over that, it was smooth sailing. They found a pace and writing style that worked for them and, in turn, made the book a lot more enjoyable than it was at the beginning. Also, they started to treat the audience as intelligent readers. For example, towards the end of the book, they decided to tackle a lot of "adult themes" that were lacking at the beginning of the book, making it a much darker and richer experience for the reader. Nothing felt forced! The world became believable and the development between the characters was amazing... for the most part.
I don't know much about Armstrong's other books seeing as how I've never read anything by her before. However, I've read three of Marr's books and... let's just say I have a love/hate relationship with them. When Melissa Marr writes stories and worlds, I feel like she gets it right and you are interested in what she has to say. But when she writes characters, she gets them HORRIBLY wrong... most of the time. You see... I feel like she gets male characters down perfectly (that's why I love Irial and Niall from her Wicked Lovely series so much). But when she writes about females... you just want to bash your head in. And I feel like that's what happened here again. I feel like the male characters are amazing! ...not so much the females. Maybe that's just my take on it, but I feel like she makes her male characters pretty awesome, well-rounded badasses where as her females, though they have spunk and I like that, are usually whiny, insufferable asshats. -_-"
Let's get into more details with this, shall we?
Matt, the hero and our Thor in this tale, is kind and caring. He looks out for everyone and tries to protect everyone. He's a bit of a dummy but that adds to his charm. His relationship with Fen, other main character and our Loki in this tale, is one of the best I have seen in any book. It starts off with so much malice, so much hatred, that you wonder what's going to happen in order for them to get along so that way they can stop Ragnarok from happening. But as time passes, you see them become quite close and what develops is a beautiful friendship that still has its ups and downs, but that no longer has that hatred between them. Speaking of Fen, I feel he is such a complex character that I can't just mention one or two things and be done with it. In fact, I won't. My character analysis on him will be up shortly, for now I will say he is a very misunderstood character (much like the Loki we all know and love). He's very angry and bitter at his family for treating him so differently and at himself for being different. However, he goes from being a prankster without a purpose to a beautifully developed character that learns to open up to others and learns how to love more people than just his cousin, Laurie (who we will talk about shortly). Fen and Baldwin, a character they meet later on their journey, create this wonderful friendship where you get to see Fen show a side to himself he didn't have a reason to show before, though you knew it was there. It's one of those friendships you love to see develop because you just want to know where it will go; that's how beautiful it is! (I will touch on their relationship more in the analysis because their "friendship" could be interpreted into something more and I am SO excited to talk about it.) I was really amazed with all three of these boys and their friendship, and the growth they went through as people.
The same cannot be said about the girls.
Laurie, Fen's cousin, was really irritating to me. I loved that she had spunk and didn't take anyone's bullshit, but at the same time... the "need" to prove that just because she was a girl didn't mean that she couldn't "fight" really got under my skin. Mostly because she got in the way of what the others were trying to accomplish. She couldn't hold her own against these magical beings (trolls, wulfenkind, etc.) and I would have been fine with that! After all, she was the "normal" one compared to Matt and Fen. However, she insisted on tagging along, knowing full well that she didn't stand a chance. Furthermore, what I really didn't like about her was how she used to take advantage of Fen's protectiveness of her. For all his life, Fen had no one to look out for him, to listen to him, to love him. Laurie was the only one so he was, obviously, very close to her. And Laurie knows this! And she used his feelings a lot of the time to get what she wanted. She never did it maliciously, but she did it whenever she wanted to tag along and that always pissed me off. Don't take advantage of your cousin's love like that. It's not right. Granted, she does grow on you as time goes by. She develops her own skills and is not as much of a nuisance by the end of the book... but that's like saying, "The fly? Oh, yeah, you stop noticing the buzzing noise after a few days." See what I'm saying? Still, could be worse. She could have been annoying throughout the ENTIRE novel.
Other females that got under my skin were Reyna and Astrid. Reyna is another "friend" of theirs that just comes off as obnoxious. She was very detestable and I couldn't bring myself to like her at all until close to the very end, but only because she became less obnoxious and more reserved, along with her twin, Ray (I have no complaints about him. He was just a kind of "stand-in" character. Didn't really do much without Reyna's prompting). Reyna did get better... but not by much. Which is more than I can say for Astrid. I won't talk much about her because she comes a bit late in the book and I feel like I might give too much away from the plot. I will say this: She annoyed me to high heaven and I hope she gets hit by a steamroller. There. Now you know how much I love her. *Mumbles about an anvil falling on Astrid's head*
If all of this was too long and you didn't read it (it's okay if you didn't; I tend to ramble when I am excited), then here's the short version: Read the book. It has a few flaws at the beginning but push on through! It gets better, I promise. There's so much to love here with the adventure aspect, the magical beings, the great writing (after the first few chapters), and the wonderful character developments that will have you squealing your head off. It's because of these reasons you should read Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr. Seriously! Go read this book! It's amazing!