FANTASTIC FRIDAY: The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes
ABOUT THE BOOK
Zane has always enjoyed exploring the dormant volcano near his home in New Mexico, even though hiking it is challenging. He'd much rather hang out there with his dog, Rosie, than go to middle school, where kids call him Sir Limps a Lot, McGimpster, or Uno — for his one good leg. What Zane doesn't know is that the volcano is a gateway to another world and he is at the center of a powerful prophecy.
A new girl at school, Brooks, informs him that he's destined to release an evil god from the ancient Maya relic he is imprisoned in — unless she can find and remove it first. Together they return to the volcano, where all kinds of crazy happens. Brooks turns into a hawk, a demon attacks them in a cave, and Rosie gives her all while trying to protect Zane. When Zane decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods, one of whom happens to be his father. To survive, Zane will have to become the Storm Runner. But how can he run when he can't even walk well without a cane?
Feisty heroes, tricky gods, murderous demons, and spirited giants are just some of the pleasures that await in this fresh and funny take on Maya mythology, as rich and delicious as a mug of authentic hot chocolate.
With Percy Jackson's story a perennial favorite in my library, I was thrilled to hear about this line of books being published under an Rick Riordan imprint. Expectations don't always get met however so I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up The Storm Runner. I am happy to say that young fantasy lovers who adore the Percy Jackson stories (found in Rick Riordan's series Percy Jackson and the Olympians) are likely to enjoy this series as well. Just as Percy gets in a tremendous amount of trouble, so does Zane. Zane, also like Percy, doesn't know who his father is as the story opens, nor does he know that he's to play a major role in a Mayan prophecy. He just wants to get along at school, and enjoy roaming a nearby volcano with his dog, Rosie. But his limp makes both of those things difficult. When he meets a girl named Brooks, he finds out about the prophecy and his role in it which complicates his life tremendously, especially when he ends up having to make a deal with the god of death. Unfortunately, unless he finds a way to get rid of the god of death, he is doomed to a very unpleasant future. With his Uncle Hondo and Brooks along for the ride, he sets out to try to find a way to accomplish a seemingly impossible task.
Once Zane meets Brooks the story picks up. Once he meets the god of death, things speed up even more and Zane runs from one disaster to the next, hoping that somehow, he can survive, save the world, and see his mother again. He's not real thrilled to finally meet his father, who turns out to be a Mayan god who broke a sacred oath. But without his father's help, he may not survive at all. Dealing with his feelings toward his father, Brooks, and the knowledge that he's a 'godborn' threaten to derail his efforts to defeat Al Puch (the god of death). But there may be more to being a godborn than Zane realizes and just maybe, there's more to him than he ever dreamed.
I enjoyed the adventure of this story and the twists and turns that take place. Just when it seemed the story was heading in one direction, there was a twist and it took off in another direction. Middle grade readers who enjoy plot-directed stories are bound to get a kick out of this one. While there is character development as Zane tries to come to terms with who he is as well as his relationships with Brooks and his father, the dominant element here is the compelling plot. Kids who know and like Percy are bound to like snarky Zane as well.