(This is about book 2 in a series. Book 1, Valhalla, can be found here.)
Not as good as I hoped, but it’s not like I can really say I’m disappointed.
Ragnarök takes place a year after the events of Valhalla, and follows the now well-established V Team on perhaps their biggest mission yet: traveling to Mars, and saving the world.
Ragnarok is an action-packed book from beginning to end. Seriously. Action-packed. If action, science, and fighting isn’t your thing, you may want to try something else. Speaking of, action REALLY isn’t my thing. But I endure, as always, for the downtime. I like the characters. I love the world-building. The plot, and the norse connections I am slowly finding, are awesome. You just got to sit through some action to get anywhere.
The time skip is a bit disorienting. There are a lot of references to things you never get to see, or else get explained to you later. It’s sort of disjointing- you get the feeling you missed a book somewhere along the line.
There’s this feeling, throughout this book and far more than in Valhalla, that the world presented is really, really big and the Ari is just presenting some small tale from it. Like he’s just drawn a box, and that’s what you get- spies and guns. But elsewhere, unseen, a whole hell of a lot is present. It gets confusing, and a lot of the writing works off of this expansive world in that it just sort of assumes you know what is going on.
It’s good in that books should do that- too much exposition can weigh you down. But it’s bad in that, if you are easily confused, you will be confused.
This book has been determined as the book where “Shit gets fucked up” by author Ari. This is true! There’s also a plot twist cliffhanger kind of ending. This is also true! I’m going to talk more about the end closer to the end of the review, but I will say, the book does live up to its promise- in fact, it’s basically centered around it. To somewhat odd degrees.
Violet, our violent friend, is further defined as a character. All our V team buddies are. However much I enjoy them, though, I will admit I am finding it harder and harder to really sum anyone up. Violet is still sort of simple- though now ‘dangerously horny’ can be added to her list of traits. But Vibeke is less of a ‘hardcore violent book nerd’ and more of a ‘??? smart violent gal’. I really don’t know. She doesn’t feel to have changed much, but a lot of her development, while good, is… somehow off.
The boys feel somewhat missing from the first half. In the second half, we do see Veikko go from ‘humor nerd’ to ‘deathwish demonspawn’, but Varg basically stays exactly the same. He seems weirdly missing, actually. I know about him, but I still don’t feel like I hear much about him. Out of the four, he is very much the most minor.
This book is full of references to Norse myth, something I truthfully know nothing about. However, googling things was a smart idea. I mean, smart in that it was informative. If you see a name, googling it MIGHT just fill you in on a key part of the plot. This is cool, but I’m sure it takes some surprise away from people who already know norse myth. Still, it’s super fun.
This review is all over the place, sorry. Most of the time I thread reviews around my rougher goodreads review/notes, and I’m having a hard time doing that smoothly for this.
The main problems are: Due to the timeskip, and general largeness of the world, many events feel confusing, or are hard to follow. While it does give a good sense of scope and worldbuilding, the exact impact of some events, or the complexities of politics, were easy to lose track of. The action, too, is a little hard to follow at times. This, in mix with the world, led to some sequences which I had to skim through (and one, involving the internet, I was essencially unable to comprehend.)
Am I sounding too negative about this book? I seem to always do that. The problem is, I can’t really name anything more positive! I feel like I liked it. But I did spend a lot of time thinking back to book one, and thinking how much I enjoyed book one. Is Ragnarok better? Is it worse? I have no idea.
I like Wulfgar for some unknown reason. I enjoy some of the jokes. The world building is fun. The internet, no matter how insane it is to follow, is very imaginative. The backstories for old, new, and even unimportant characters are some of my favorite bits. Sal, who I believe is a reference to Hal at this point, is my new fav. And it truly was upsetting to see, er, the ending. I’m curious as to how the next book will WORK and what it will be about with the way this one ended!
But Violet and Vibeke’s relationship takes a very uncomfortable turn. It’s supposed to, it’s written to, but I still did not enjoy or like it, and it make the book feel weird at times.
The book is obviously centered on ‘ragnarok’ as a bit of it’s theme. So naturally, things go to hell to extreme degrees through crazily hard to follow politics and action.
The last 25% of the book is the final climax, and the set up of this climax, and the reasonings, both make sense and do not. I still do not understand all of the final villain’s reasonings, and honestly, it felt like every chapter was the end one. Don’t get me wrong, there were no late timeskips or anything near the end, but it still felt weirdly muddled, full of death and false ends. Our actual end feels quick by comparison- the whole last portion sort of feels like the start of a new book, or at least something that belonged earlier on in this one.
I did spent a lot of time being confused. I got bothered by action scenes, and their frequency. I think it’s safe to say this isn’t really a book series meant for me- but hey, I’ll still be reading the third one.
So how can I wrap this up positively? Well, as mentioned. There were bits I liked, even if the writing sometimes failed me. The concepts are imaginative, and the world is rich, well built, and clearly well thought-out. It was like the building blocks were all there, but the characters and plot got a little too muddled in the construction process.