Review Detail

Adventures in Indian Culture
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Kiran has survived her ordeals in The Serpent's Secret, and is back in Parsippany, New Jersey. and is trying to settle back into school. However, Neel's mother, the burping, rhyming demon queen, finds her at school and says that Neel is being held captive by Kiran's serpent birth father, and only she can rescue him. With the help of a portal that appears on the school soccer field, she travels to the underground hotel/prison, but is unable to rescue her friend. Not only that, but Neel does not want her to try. It's too late, and Kiran and Naya must travel to the Kingdom Beyond, where Kiran applies to be on the reality television show, Who Wants to be a Demon Slayer. The people in that Kingdom have heard of her exploits, and her image is splashed everywhere. Kiran finds out that she must not only free Neel, but must find two stones that are critical to keeping the balance in the kingdom. It's not easy to get anything done, and even meeting up with Neel's brothers (in the forms of an owl and monkey god) and the Pink-Sari skateboarders causes more problems than it solves. Kiran even needs to trick her father into providing a fang to break Neel out of his prison, but the final battle has a few surprises, and the story is not yet over.
Good Points
I enjoyed how Dasgupta took traditional Indian tales and adapted them for middle grades. Her notes at the back about girl power groups in Indian, and the influence of things like game shows and off beat products (I sort of want to be Princess Pretty Pants for Halloween) on modern Indian culture are interesting. I loved that she addressed the topic of light skin being such a desirable thing that people spend a lot of money on bleaching skin creams; I had heard of this, but hadn't seen the practice in action.

Kiran is a great character, and her friendship/possible romance with Neel is engaging. Kiran is not overly thrilled to have to participate in all of this saving of the world, but she also approaches the experience with lots of good humor, and a real desire to do what she needs to do.

This was a little goofier than a lot of the Rick Riordan type mythology based adventure novels, but those of us who find the chapter titles in The Lightning Thief absolutely hilarious can appreciate this.

There are so many great new books that combine elements from a variety of cultures with action and adventure, like Carlos Hernandez's Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Yoon Ha Lee's Dragon Pearl, J.C. Cervantes' The Storm Runner and Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the End of Time, and this new title will intrigue the readers of those books. As a bonus, most of these fantastic books are the first ones in series, which will make these readers even happier.

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