Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Summary from NetGalley:
Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he’s Mr. Charles, her dad’s new boss at the oil and gas company, and he’s alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he’s a threat, but her father won’t believe her. When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says “Run!”, the siblings and Nizhoni’s best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. Their aid will come at a price: the kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. If Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery can reach the House of the Sun, they will be outfitted with what they need to defeat the ancient monsters Mr. Charles has unleashed. But it will take more than weapons for Nizhoni to become the hero she was destined to be . . . Timeless themes such as the importance of family and respect for the land resonate in this funny, fast-paced, and exciting quest adventure set in the American Southwest.
ARC provided by Disney Book Group via NetGalley for an honest review.
Having read Ms. Roanhorse’s YA books, and loving them, I was sure that this one was going to be equally awesome. I was not disappointed. This book has in fact jumped to my number one best Middle grade book of the year. This book has a lot of heart and I just love how she weaves the Navajo mythology so seamlessly throughout the book.
Nizhoni is such a great character, so full of spunk and fiercely loyal to her family and friends. I also liked that she was somewhat awkward and clumsy like most kids that age. And even though she respected her heritage she didn’t think that it was important to her life until things really start to happen. Then she has to work to remember what she has learned and put it to use. Her abilities were equally awesome and pretty badass for a tween. Nizhoni is a little bit of a rebel, but she really works hard to do what is right as well.
I loved her little brother Mac. His power to control water is pretty awesome and useful too. Mac was also somewhat clueless most of the time but when he goes into action, watch out. He was also brave when he needed to be. Even though he and Nizhoni bickered quite a bit, you could tell that the love was there underneath.
Davery was a great addition to this story. He is biracial, and a total nerd. He loved to read and his superpower was the ability to find the answer to anything. It really wasn’t a power, but it certainly seemed so when he would come up with the answers to things. He and Nizhoni were great friends who always had each others backs.
The plot was most excellent. Riveting, exciting, fast paced and hard to put down. As I already mentioned the mythology is so finely woven into the story that it makes it move along that much smoother. No info dumping or stops for explanations. The trials that Nizhoni has to go through to get to the House of the Sun were very modern and amusing. The quirky characters that were the Holy people were also delightful to read and often made me smile.
I have only read a couple of these Rick Riordan Presents books, but this one is my absolute favorite so far. My only disappointment is that it appears to be a standalone. I certainly hope not. I would love to see more books with this trio and their adventures.