As someone who has made their thoughts about YA very clear, it might seem strange that I enjoy reading Middle-Grade books so much. Maybe it’s because there’s a further distance between me and the intended audience? Maybe it’s because I’m still a child at heart? But I suspect that it’s because children’s writers aren’t trying as hard to fit in with their audience. One of my main criticisms of YA is the way that teenagers are represented. I can’t connect with it. I feel like Middle-Grade fiction is written to both entertain and, in some way, to explain certain aspects of life. It makes it easier for me to stomach. Does that make sense? Probably not.
Loki is big business these days. Mythology in general is having its literary moment and, thanks to a certain film franchise, the characters from Norse mythology are household names. When I was younger, I was interested in mythology but I don’t remember it being easy to find fiction based on it (though I can’t guarantee that I put much effort into finding any). So, I was excited to see how this book would introduce its readers to the world of Norse mythology.
I think it was genius for Louie Stowell to approach the story in this way. It’s like Diary of a Wimpy Kid met the Norse god’s. I’ve never read any of her other books so it’s entirely probable that this style is typical. Either way, it’s a great way to get children to engage with the story. The diary form and the illustrations mean there is so much to keep them entertained.
The premise is pretty simple. Loki has been banished from Asgard and sent to Earth. Unfortunately, he’s also been put into the body of an 11-year-old boy. He has one month to convince Odin that he can change his ways. He determines this through Loki’s diary. It gives him a score based on his good behaviour. Provided there is any of course. Loki is joined by Thor, Heimdall and Hyrrokkin who form his fake family. Will Loki succeed in his task or will he be thrown out of Asgard forever?
As an adult, I have to say that most of the humour didn’t get me giggling but that’s probably a good thing. It’s definitely the kind of stuff that will get younger readers going. This is a book all about having as much fun as possible. The illustrations only make this easier and I can imagine kids being full of joy when reading this one. That’s not to say that there isn’t a message here. It’s all the usual kinds of themes: be nice to people, be honest, and think of others. Even though it’s literally the plot of the book, it doesn’t feel too preachy. Loki is a fish out of water and he has to learn about human society. So the lessons are ingrained with the narrative.
This is an enjoyable and fun read that I can see any child enjoying. Especially for those who have awareness of the characters thanks to Marvel. My major disappointment is that you don’t learn a great deal about Norse mythology besides what you learn at the start. I’m hoping any future books will rectify this and introduce more characters. There are some major players who could pop in for a great cameo.