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Berserker

Review

Berserker

In BERSERKER by Emmy Laybourne, four teenage siblings gifted with powers from the Norse gods are on the run from authorities after being accused of murder. Author Emmy Laybourne creates a new Viking mythology in which certain Nordic families are gifted with powers called the Nytte. The Nytte began as a blood-given gift from Odin to three Viking Kings so that the kings and their families would have unstoppable armies. There are three types of Nytte: a Storm-Rend, able to create wind to speed the boats across the sea; a Ransacker, gifted with the ability to find hidden gold; or a Berserker, someone who is driven to kill when their kin is in danger.

Hanne, the main character, possesses the gift of the Berserker, which throws her into a murderous state when she or her loved ones are in danger. Along with her siblings Knut, Steig and Sissel, Hanne is forced to leave her hometown of Norway after a brutal misunderstanding. The family flees to America to join their uncle, who is also a Berserker.

After a dangerous journey, they meet American cowboy Owen, who offers to lead them across America in exchange for money. Little does he know the predicament of the siblings and they soon fall into the life-threatening danger of being captured. 

"Filled with interesting Norse mythology, American history and fiction, BERSERKER is different from any other historical/mythological fiction I have ever read or seen.... I am excited to see the next installment in this incredible series by Emmy Laybourne."

Filled with interesting Norse mythology, American history and fiction, BERSERKER is different from any other historical/mythological fiction I have ever read or seen. It was definitely not what I was expecting. It took me a while to understand the characters’ setting, but after a couple chapters, the novel’s storyline was quite simple and easy to understand. The chase between the authorities and the foreigners, accompanied by an American cowboy made for an interesting plot. The characterization was well-defined for the whole cast; I could tell the unique differences between each. Hanne’s character development as a shy, quiet character who slowly evolves and opens up to Owen created a nice, realistic dynamic between them. 

The writing style was very enjoyable and different from other young adult novels that I have read. It takes you back in time to the Nyetteson and their immigration across the world. It is an immersing story that totally transports the reader. 

The book is split into multiple points-of-view with Hanne and the American cowboy Owen taking up most of the plot. Owen falls into the story with the misfortune of his drinking and a night going wrong. There was a touch of romance between Owen and Hanne, which was implemented cleanly, but I’m not sure if it was appropriate for the situation that they were in. The sibling-relationship and dynamic played well with the story and were quite realistic as well.

We also meet Rolf and Ketil, who are tracking the Nyetteson; these characters give us a different perspective as well as a parallel to the fear of Hanne and her family compared to the bloodlust of Ketil.

Unlike other god-focused novels, not every scene involved the gifted using and controlling their powers. Instead, Hanne and the others are only children and this is the first time they’ve had to use them to such a great extent. I loved the individual scenes for each of them, when they use their gifts to survive. It was also an interesting concept where each gift comes with an almost life-threatening catch. 

Although the characters have gifts and special powers, it isn’t written like any other mythological novel. It has its fair share of violent and action-packed scenes that keep the reader’s interest. The ending scene wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before; it was not predictable. I expected BERSERKER to be a stand-alone novel, but I am excited to see the next installment in this incredible series by Emmy Laybourne.

Reviewed by Jeremy H., Teen Board Member on December 13, 2017

Berserker
by Emmy Laybourne