Monday, February 18, 2013

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson [Review]

Young Adult, Mythology, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publication.Date  October 9th 2012
Published By:  Harper Teen | 
WebsiteIngrid Paulson

Valkyrie Rising on Goodreads
My review copy:Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

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.


After all, there was no quieter place in the world than Norway. Nothing ever happened there.
I felt warm. Once upon a time my grandmother was supermodel caliber. The pictures on her wall made that more than clear. I didn’t really know what to say. But I rarely did when I was talking to boys other than Graham and Tuck—and they hardly counted.
The old lady reached me, so I turned and smiled, struggling to remember how to say sixteen in Norwegian, since holding up fingers for my age hadn’t cut it for a while.
“You shouldn’t be here,” she said. Her English was thickly accented, and it took a moment for the words to register, even though the malice behind them was unmistakable. “Stay out of our town.”
“Let her live. There’s no justice in punishing the ignorant. And they understand just enough to carry an important message home.” She locked eyes with me. “Consider this a one-time courtesy.” The last word stuck to her tongue as if it were the vilest combination of letters in the dictionary. “Next time you won’t be so lucky. When I hunt, I kill anything that gets in my way—predator or prey.”

     While overall decent and readable, Valkyrie Rising certainly failed to impress me. The plot was full of holes and randomness. I found most of the developments to be either totally predictable or, at the very best, simply improbable. There were certain moments when things conveniently happened even though they shouldn't. And while I didn't find the writing especially bad, or the characters especially annoying, I can't say that I enjoyed this book a lot. The lack of tension, shallow worldbuilding and mythological and cultural backdrop that wasn't explored nearly enough - all that left me feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. 

     I've read my share of mythology/folklore based books and I find that they're either hit or miss with me. And this one was definitely a miss. When I pick up a book that not only draws from mythology, but is also set in a foreign (i.e. exotic to me) country, I expect it to have a rich cultural tapestry, unique atmosphere, or - at the very least - a well-researched, interesting background (including myths and folk stories, religious beliefs, traditions and/or local superstitions). And while I can't say that I'm an expert on Norse mythology - or Norway in general - I also can't say that I felt even a tiny bit more knowledgeable after reading Valkyrie Rising. In my opinion, the biggest fault of this book is that non of the plot threads were explored to the fullest. The mythology and culture was there, but it was scarce and flavorless (honestly, all that stuck with me is that Valkyries are beautiful, powerful and can make people fall in love with them). The action part of the story was unevenly paced and not as thrilling as I hoped it would be. The evil villains were quite stereotypical, too. Ellie's love life seemed to be the primary focus of the plot, but it, too, seemed cliched and forced to me. Tucker was somewhat cute, but I can't say that I was especially interested in him. He was charming, handsome, funny and protective of Ellie, but didn't have any unique characteristics that would make him stand out of the "YA love interests" crowd. The thing that annoyed me the most, though, was Ellie's incredibly low self-esteem and her constant "I'm not pretty/interesting enough" act, when it was obvious from the very first page of the book that she looked like one of Victoria Secret's models and wasn't lacking in the brains department either. The whole set-up was just so cliched! The gorgeously hot, older guy and the wallflower girl who is blissfully oblivious that she's hotter than Sun! Oh, come on! 

     Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this book was horrible or a total waste of time. There were certain aspects of it that I really enjoyed. I liked the small and creepy village of Skaveopoll where most of the action took place. It was a picturesque setting with a lot of history and I liked the way Ingrid Paulson depicted it. I especially enjoyed the scary vibe the town folk gave off, being all secretive, protective and unwelcoming. I also enjoyed reading about Ellie's grandma, though I must admit I don't understand why she had to put on the "I don't see no pink elephant in the room" act. She knew all the secrets and was aware of the evil lurking behind every corner, and I just can't comprehend why she chose to keep all that from Ellie, putting her life in danger. 

     Overall, I thought this book was OK. While it didn't exactly blow me away and I had some problems with the way the story progressed, I also thought the premise was unique and intriguing. If only it was explored more in depth! I would have loved to learn more about Norway, its culture, history and mythology. I probably won't be picking up the next book in the series, but don't let my review discourage you from giving this novel a shot! Who knows? You might end up loving it!


Jenea Whittington said...

I'm not sure this is really something I get into. I like that village had lots of creepiness though. I might just steer clear of this one. Thanks for sharing your thought on it.

Jenea @ Books Live Forever

Bianca said...

I was really hoping to love this one but just like you I wasn't blown away either. I didn't hate it but didn't love it either.

Megan R said...

Too bad this one didn't do it for you. It seems like a bit of a waste to set it in Norway, then not have any cultural flavour.

Kelly said...

I always hate reading your reviews because I feel like your reviews are so strong that I gotta go and get it now. I found one that I didn't feel like I had to run and get. LOL!

Evie Seo said...

@Kelly, wow, this is the first time someone told me they hate my reviews hahaha! Guess there's a first for everything, eh? :) But I'm glad they make you run out to buy books *evil laugh* Save your money this time, chick!

Evie Seo said...

@Megan I was really hoping the setting and cultural background would be explored more in depth, it seems like a waste for sure! Oh well, you can't possibly love every book you pick up, right? :)

Evie Seo said...

@Bianca, this is more or less how I feel. I didn't hate it, it had its good moments, but overall it just didn't do it for me. And it's a shame, cause the premise seemed so fascinating and full of potential!

Evie Seo said...

@Jenea, I hear ya! I was lured in by the cover and the promise of Norse mythology. Plus, Valkyrie seems like such a great theme for a YA book! It wasn't all that horrible, either, more on the MEH side. I just wanted more of the cool stuff :)

Lyn Kaye said...

I have wanted to read this for a long time, but I am afraid that it will not be good and it will infuriate me.

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