Book Review: “Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality”

Roshani Chokshi delivers a brilliant fest of coming-of-age action with her latest book Pandava, Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality. In the final battle with the Sleeper, Aru and his friends must defeat the deadliest of all foes, Doubt. Mythical monsters and gods are deadly, but the most powerful enemy of all is lack of self-confidence.

During the final hiatus, Aru and his friends Brynne, Mini, Aiden, Nikita, and Sheela were on the verge of despair. Although they found another Pandava brother in the form of Kara, who also happened to be Aru’s half-sister, the hope of success against the Sleeper (Aru’s father) was dim. Manipulating Kara, the Sleeper was able to destroy the Pandava’s divine weapons, and he and Kara disappeared to find the Nectar of Immortality. The end of time is on the horizon.

Faced with the absence of a divine arsenal, the Pandavas are forced to face their own shortcomings. Can they be heroes without weapons? What can they do without their magical abilities? How would a group of teenagers defeat a god from mythology? These are just some of the main questions Aru and his friends try to answer as they dive into their latest adventure.

News of the impending destruction of the world is rampant. The citizens of the afterlife and the Hindu gods lost faith in the Pandavas. It seems the time for destruction is near, and Aru and his friends have failed.

The End of the Terror World is a common plotline in many mid-level novels, and that’s what makes it so fun to read. Having read the first Aru Shah in 2018, I loved her journey, and following the path Chokshi charted for her heroine has been pure bliss. I’m a fan of history, a great story full of action and a well thought out story that makes me care what’s going on.

As a forty-year-old critic traveling through the wonders of mid-level literature, I can’t help but be jealous of the quantity and quality of literature available today. There are an abundance of great books waiting to be discovered, and Aru Shah’s saga is another touchstone of great reading. With each novel, Chokshi has strived to deliver a gripping story that takes us into the world of Hindu mythology, but at the heart of her books are fascinating and interesting characters. Aru Shah is a BIG character that readers will love. In his fifth book Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality, Chokshi grows his characters with grace and continues to show readers that no one can be successful unless they accept and know themselves.

As with any mid-level story, there’s always a quest or journey for the protagonist to complete, and while we’ve seen Aru and his friends navigate some tricky waters, Chokshi saved the best for last. One of life’s greatest battles is the fight against self-doubt. The loss of their divine weapons causes them to question their own abilities.

It’s a tale from modern mythology, but it’s the problem teenagers face every day. The decidedly difficult test of doubt. Questioning who we are and what we are going to do is a painful journey for everyone, no matter your age. Against the backdrop of battling monsters and gods, Aru is an ordinary teenager who grew up without a father, built a wall between herself and her mother, and spent many days alone. It is the unification of Pandava spirits that brings Aru together with his friends Mini, Brynne, Sheela, Nikita and Aiden.

What a wonderful time to find your friends, who give you the strength to face difficulties and grow. The Pandavas fight for the survival of the world, but it is friendship that allows each of the characters to live. We are all broken by the daily problems of life, but it is our ability to rebuild each day and grow from what we are experiencing that helps us survive. Aru has been long gone, and through her quest, the friends she gains become the family she always wanted.

Chokshi combines the big issues discussed in the book with lighthearted moments experienced by all teenagers. The unknown way of dealing with a budding romance, accepting failures, learning to grow, and learning to trust others. While readers will laugh and cheer throughout the book, there is a decidedly deeper meaning to the book. Chokshi uses Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality as an in-depth discussion on the power of doubt. Our heroes are hurt by their failure, and just like many teenagers and adults, the fear of failure is the most dangerous enemy anyone will ever face.

How can you accomplish anything when you don’t believe in yourself? Aru is heartbroken by her failure and while Mini and Brynne have gained some ability to overcome their fears, Aru takes longer to learn from her mistakes and believe in herself. His best weapon is not divine lightning, but the confidence to try.

Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality is the perfect bookend for an amazing story. Rick Riordan Presents’ imprint began with Aru Shah, and now after five years his story is over, but the impact he has had will be felt for years to come. I hope this won’t be the last time I get to read a new Aru Shah tale, but Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality is a brilliant ending that leaves the door open for more.

Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality is a four-star delight and the perfect way to start the spring reading season.

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