My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars
Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Embrace the Nytte. Open your heart to it, or it will be the ruin of you. —Aud
Filled with intriguing elements of Norse mythology and American history, Berserker is one of the most unique and surprising books I’ve ever read. I would’ve finished it sooner had I not been in a terrible reading slump caused by Korean dramas and K-pop music. xD
Berserker is basically a heartwarming story about four teenagers with powers bestowed by the old Norse gods. Hanne, the female lead, is a Berserker, which means that she flies into a killing state whenever her loved ones are threatened. Unable to control her murderous abilities, Hanne is eventually forced to leave her homeland (Norway) in search for her uncle, who is supposedly the only person who can help her. With the help of a handsome cowboy named Owen, Hanne and her siblings forge their way through 19th century America. Little do they know that many life-threatening experiences await them in such a “great” country.
For me, the best thing about Berserker was its emphasis on the special bond between siblings. In spite of their many differences (that caused a number of entertaining arguments), Hanne, Stieg, Knut, and Sissel did everything in their power to keep each other safe. Furthermore, each of them had a distinct personality that made me want to meet them in real life. Hanne was the ever protective sister who loved to cook. Stieg was a bookworm who was the voice of reason in the midst of chaos. Knut was a gentle giant who could be unexpectedly profound. As for Sissel, she was a brat who could disclose an ugly truth without flinching. I really enjoyed getting to know these unique and fascinating characters.
Another virtue of Berserker was its application of Norse mythology. Greek/Roman mythology has been a popular theme in literature (and other forms of media) for years; you must be living in a cave if you aren’t familiar with the stories of Zeus, Poseidon, and other iconic deities. With that in mind, this book was like a breath of fresh air because it deviated from the status quo. Although I was already quite familiar with Norse mythology, it was fun to catch a glimpse of Odin, Freya, and the Vikings (who were apparently good at poetry).
I will probably always remember Berserker because of its shockingly detailed fighting scenes. Hanne was a force to be reckoned with when her powers were triggered; she could kill/decapitate people without batting an eye. The same could be said about the villain, who never failed to creep me out. I didn’t exactly enjoy the violence in this book, but I liked that the author didn’t make a sugarcoated YA novel.
The last virtue of Berserker was its historical content. Hanne and her siblings were only a few of the Europeans who migrated to America with the goal of having a “better” life. It could be said that they were victims of the American dream. As a Filipino, I found this to be very entertaining. It is an undeniable fact that many people in “Third World” Asia still believe that complete happiness can be found in America. Gleaning upon all of the trials the protagonists faced in Montana, I couldn’t help but scoff at the latter belief. If anything, Berserker reminded me that our happiness is determined by our choices, not by our current location in the world.
In all honesty, the only disappointing thing about this book was its similarity to Disney’s Frozen. The quote at the beginning of my review can probably speak for itself. This trope made the ending predictable and quite…er, corny. Since the majority of the book was cool and badass, I expected the resolution to be the same.
Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun reading Berserker, and I’m confident that many people will enjoy it, too. If you’re looking for a fun, educational, and action-packed novel, you should definitely add it to your TBR shelf.