Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood - the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of - the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.
When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.
©2013 Tessa Gratton (P)2013 Random House
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The Lost Sun is a book that defies so many YA conventions: unapologetically violent, a very low key romance, and for once, a story that is not about an entitled unique snowflake girl. As well, the world building is unique, the voice dark yet grounded, and the main character flawed but with unique strengths. At heart, this is a road trip with a decided conclusion at the end despite being the first in a series.
In the United States of Asgard, Viking gods walk the Earth and magic, trolls, and mythos are very much a part of the landscape. Soren is the son of a berserker - one who went mad and killed innocents before being put down. His father was legendary for his valor and strength; now for his fall from grace. In that shadow, Soren wishes freedom from the berserker ability within him. When he meets Astrid, a seer, he will join her on a quest to find the lost sun Baldur the Beautiful; Baldur did not rise with the sunrise and the people are worried. But there is far more at stake than one lost god and Soren, along with Astrid, will come into contact with several of the Gods as they are caught up in Asgardian machinations.
The premise of having a modern America under Viking influence rather than European is quite distinct and well realized here. From the new names of cars, to unique soft drinks, to the way society reacts and acts; they are all logical conclusions to the Asgardian influence. The book is layered and nuanced but would ultimately fail if we didn't invest in the main characters. Fortunately, Gratton does an excellent job of giving us realistic and grounded individuals despite the supernatural elements in the story.
There was such a plausibility and authenticity to the characters and setting that we invested in the world and wanted to see if they would reach their goals at the end. There were a few twists, some were obvious, but overall the story followed a satisfying arc and the author neither overwrote nor overplayed the mysteries.
In all, a great read and I eagerly await the second in the series. Note: I listened to the Audible version and the narrator did an excellent job.
"A Surprise Favorite"
I need to start out by saying that The Lost Sun is not going to be a 5-star book for everyone. In fact, the book itself probably won't work for a lot of people, but, for me, it just hit some sweet spot, and I fell hard for Tessa Gratton's novel.
The Lost Sun is an alternate reality where the Norse gods are real, and the present-day culture of the United States is embedded with Norse myth and legend. I don't know Norse mythology as well as I know Greek and Roman mythology, so I was grateful for the stories from the pantheon that Tessa Gratton slipped in so seamlessly. It's a culture of storytelling and poetry, thus telling tales from the past fits.
Into this setting, Soren Bearskin and Astrid Glyn embark on a quest to find the lost sun god, Baldur. Soren's father was a famous Berserker--famous in life and most especially for his spectacular death. Soren has inherited the berserking fever, and he tries to fight it, so as not to lose himself (literally) to the rage and frenzy of the battle. Astrid is a devotee of Freya, the goddess of magic and hell. She can see the future and is devoted to fate.
There are a lot of books out there where the main characters are fated to be together, but these two are beyond any others. Fate in this novel is an almost tangible thing that you could pick up in your hands and devour. I don't know how Tessa Gratton did that. I love Soren and Astrid together. I also really liked Baldur. He's unlike any god I've ever read about--both so supernatural and so human.
Soren narrates the novel, and he has a really strong voice. As a character he reminded me of Cassel from Holly Black's White Cat. The tone of the book is similar to that novel as well--it's a bit gritty with overtones of melancholy and lots of atmosphere.
I should probably also mention that I have a feeling that I might not have liked this book so well if I had read it rather than listened to it. I have a higher tolerance for a slow start in audio format, and this book definitely takes its time.
A fabulous rendering of Tessa's first book in the series. Excellent narration
gave life to all the characters, and introduced the world of Asgard with such familiarity that I felt I had always known it.
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