This is my last Norsevember book review, sniff (but my second last review overall). I reviewed the first book in this series, The Gospel of Loki, and another blogger, Sue, suggested I might enjoy this one more. She had recently reviewed this one for her own Norsevember contribution and I liked her review so decided I had nothing to lose.
In this follow up to the previous novel, Loki is falling through nothingness with his son Jormundgr after Ragnarok. He finds himself in a strange world that’s a close approximation to Asgard but with a few differences. After fighting a quick battle he’s transported into the real-world body of Jumps. You see, that between world was a computer game. Loki now shares the body of a seventeen year old girl. After a bit of tussling inside Jumps’ head, including Loki eating everything he can get his hands on and Jumps being disgusted by that, he finds out that other gods have the same fate.
Odin shares the body of Evan, Jumps friend who is in a wheelchair and has a glass eye. Odin intended to put Thor into Jumps and when they try to bring back other gods, the Thunderer ends up in the body of Twinkle, Evan’s little white dog. They must then look for Freyja and try to find a way into flesh bodies of their own, and try to get back to a new Asgard.
I was a bit indifferent to this book by the end, if I’m honest. Sue was right in that I did prefer it to the first one, but I didn’t like it as much as she did. The narration isn’t as biting and sardonic in this one, and that’s what I liked in the first, but the informal voice did sit it better in a modern setting. Oddly there weren’t as many modern colloquialisms in this from Loki as the first; most of those came from Jumps. He calls Facebook by its real name then calls it The Book of Faces for the rest of the time. The gods are kind of watered down versions of themselves, understandable given they’ve been plucked out of everything familiar and forced to share control of a body with a teenager, but recognisable. I think it’s a better story more suited to Joanne Harris’ writing style this time around, but it’s still a bit of a “meh” for me.
I did like how Loki helped Jumps come out of her shell, making her face her problem with food, body image, and self harming (it’s only mentioned) and then struggling with school. Then the whole thing kind of flips and becomes all about the gods’ mission which I didn’t hate but to me it felt like Jumps was kind of abandoned after that. She was still there, and still had her part to play, but it was almost like her story was largely over. I would’ve liked to see a lot more of the real Evan as well.
It’s a young adult novel and, like The Monstrous Child I read last, I’d probably put this in the younger or mid range of that age bracket. The plot is a bit more complicated and there’s more back story than either of the other two I mentioned, and kudos to the author for trying something new (ish, the setup felt like a kind of reverse Jumanji remake) with familiar Norse characters. I wouldn’t have read this without Sue’s suggestion and I don’t regret giving it a go, even if I didn’t entirely love it.