Game of Stars (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2)
February 26, 2019
When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it's been weeks since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a terrible game show reigns supreme, and friends and foes alike are in danger. Everyone is running scared or imprisoned following the enactment of sudden and unfair rules of law.
However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again solve riddles and battle her evil Serpent King father -- all while figuring out who her true friends are, and what it really means to be a hero.
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
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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