The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes. Disney-Hyperion 2018.
Zane Obispo has never been able to make friends at his school in New Mexico due to his limp – one of the reasons he adopted his dog Rosie, who’s missing a leg. The coolest thing about Zane’s life so far is the volcano in his back yard. But things heat up quickly with the arrival of a very cool-looking girl his own age, Brooks, who tells him that there’s a prophecy that he will be the one to release Ah-Puch, the Maya god of death, from his prison. His neighbor lady, Ms. Cab, turns out to be a real seer, who also tells him that things are about to get bad. Soon, Zane, Brooks, Zane’s crazy Uncle Hondo, and one of Ms. Cab’s spare eyeballs are off on a quest to stop the end of the world and find out who Zane’s father is.
This is one of the new Rick Riordan presents books, and it follows that formula beat by beat using Maya mythology. I personally find the relentless action of these books exhausting, but I’m sure many kids will still enjoy it. More troubling to me is that it follows the current pattern of having more male characters with one unbelievably, super-strong female character who starts off so amazing there’s no room for a character arc. (See “The Golden Ratio of Sexism in Children’s Literature” ) But, probably better a superhero than a doormat for a female character, and less developed characters are also par for the course in plot-driven literature. It’s still a solid entry in the expanding Riordan-inspired universe, one with a disabled Latino boy finding his strength and a place in the world.
Other stories of modern kids dealing with the gods of ancient mythology include The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta, Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, and The Savage Fortress by Sarwatt Chadda. And more books in the Rick Riordan Presents series are being published all the time!
This book has been nominated for the Cybils award. This review reflects my opinion, not that of the Cybils committee.