Author: Andrew David MacDonald
Genre: Coming of age story
Release Date: January 28, 2020
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Purchase it: Amazon
This book was a birthday present from my little sister and I honestly had no idea what it was about when I started it. I thought the cover looked awesome and I had seen good ratings for it though, so I was super excited to get into it. I have to say, it wasn’t what I was expecting, but this was a great read!
The book follows the story of Zelda who is a young woman who is described as being high functioning with fetal alcohol syndrome. She lives with her brother Gert who was a star football player in high school but had an injury that cut him down short of his dreams. Gert has since been labeled as a dumb thug based on his looks. The two of them do all they can to subvert expectations and be the most they can be. They have a really heartwarming relationship where they push each other to be the most they can be, even if they butt heads from time to time. There are plenty of other characters to meet along the way, but these two are the big main characters.
The story itself is really great. Zelda likens everything that happens in her life to being part of her own Viking legend. She loves Vikings and everything about them so she is set on a mission to achieve her own legend, which involves her proving to everyone that people like her can become “powerful” in the world. It’s a really unique way to look at this kind of story and provides a bit of a fantasy element in an otherwise normal and bleak world. It turns Zelda into such an interesting character, one that I can’t say I’ve experienced before.
The writing style is also something I found to be unique, in a good way. It’s written from Zelda’s point of view and is written in a way that makes it sound like it really is coming from her. Things she says feel slower and more deliberate, not many conjugations or abbreviations will be found when she’s explaining something. At first I didn’t think it was necessary, and that it even disrupted the flow of the writing, but before long I realized that it made everything feel more authentic. It really felt like I was with Zelda as she led me through the story.
The story really takes off in the second half of the book and had me hooked on every word. Towards the end I couldn’t put it down as the tension rose and the story reached it’s climax. The story became so much bigger and intricate than I was expecting at the outset and I really loved the way it went. However, it became a bit mature at times towards the end so that is definitely something to keep in mind. I don’t think this is a great book for younger readers, but it will depend on the reader’s maturity level.
All in all this was a surprisingly great read and one that I think a lot of people can enjoy. As long as you are ready for some mature themes, this is definitely a book I can recommend. The author did a great job of giving Zelda a genuine voice and making her a character that we can all relate to and root for. She just wants to protect her friends and family and become the hero of her own legend. When We Were Vikings is one of the best debut novels I have read. Zelda will undoubtedly inspire readers to chase their own legends and become great!
As always, thanks so much for reading! If you liked the review or are interested in the book let me know in the comments below. Be sure to check back (at least) every Wednesday and Saturday for new posts and sign-up via email to make sure you never miss a post! Be safe and have a great day!