Thursday, September 20, 2012

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

ARC received from Harper Teen at ALA
Release Date: 10-9-2012
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  A thrill ride from start to finish—full of haunting secrets and forbidden desire
 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.

I loved Valkyrie Rising.  LOVED IT!  It was the perfect escape from reality—one where I could become more than a mere mortal, kiss the forbidden guy, and fight the ancient gods.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I love Norse mythology, but I think its worth mentioning again—especially with the recent flux of ya books focusing on Norse these days.  But Valkyrie Rising rose to the top for me.  I like that the mythology can be twisted—who are the good guys?  Valkyries?  Odin? Loki?  It depends entirely on the book you read.  In Paulson’s case, Odin is the bad guy—along with his crew of blond bombshell Valkyries.  When Ellie finds out that she’s a Valkyrie, she must decide whether to join the misfit group, or stand up and lead the charge against them.

I’ve never been to Norway, so I loved how Ingrid painted her setting—tiny villages where the majority of people are fishermen, beautiful jutting cliffs over the fjords where cascading waterfalls are a natural setting, rough waves out on the waters where the men spend their lives.  It was brilliant and made me want to jump on a plane and go straight to Oslo!

I enjoyed watching Ellie discover herself.  At the beginning of the book, she’s Graham’s little sister.  The girl no one notices, the girl who needs protecting, the girl who stands in the shadow.  However, once Ellie goes to Norway, her old persona is thrown straight into the fjords to never be seen again.  Here, she discovers her truth, and as a result, her power.   Paulson writes Ellie with an internal monologue that really shows you how she struggles to contain the violence of her Valkyrie side.  This gives us a more personal side of Ellie and it shows us that she is still all too human.  I liked this vulnerability because it didn’t feel like it was “Bam!  Now I’m a superhero,” a mistake I think too many ya books make.






Adding Tuck to my book boyfriends right away because WOW!  Tuck is charming, in that, I’m undressing you with my eyes sort of way.  He is popular, smart, witty, and every girl is putty in his hands.  He talks in innuendo, and when you add his words to those gorgeous eyes and that stop-you-in-your-tracks smile, and Tuck becomes the perfect ya guy.  I fell hard for this guy!  He was so cocky and arrogant, but at the same time, you could really see how much he cares for and desires Ellie.  The problem?  He’s Graham’s best friend, and Graham is super over-protective, so Tuck says nothing can happen.  Tear.  But, that doesn’t stop the sexual tension and desire from leaking onto every page!  This romance was sweet and intoxicating—if only there was more of it!

Ingrid did such a great job with the minor characters, too.  I loved Graham.  I don’t have a brother and I always wanted on to watch out for me.  Graham was the epitome of what I used to wish I had—he’s popular and smart, athletic, and protective to a fault.  While I can see why his protectiveness would be a huge problem, I couldn’t help but want to wrap him in a bear hug!

And Loki….

I LOVED Loki!  He is such a trickster, but he does it with such arrogance and raw sexuality that I half found myself wishing he would kiss Ellie!  I know, don’t judge me—but he was striking and addicting—everything you would expect a god to be.  He rides the line between good and evil, which, in my opinion, makes the perfect dark hero (or villain)…whichever he turns out to be!

This is a stand-alone novel, which, while refreshing because we don’t have to wait a year for the next book, was still slightly upsetting because the characters were so good I wanted more!  Plus, there’s the fact that the bad guys are immortal—so a portion of the ending felt undone to me.  But I guess that’s the price you pay when you write with mythology where the bad guys can never really be defeated.  While Ingrid says this is a stand-alone, it was definitely left where another book could be written in the future—if she chooses to grant our wishes and give us more Tuck!

Final judgment:  Full  of great romance (wait till you read the rooftop scene), conniving yet unforgettable tricksters, and suspense that will keep the pages turning, Valkyrie Rising is a MUST READ!