Kristia Tostenson is from a small town in Oregon. Kristia worries that she'll just following along with what is expected and marry one of the few suitable males after finishing university and settling down to a boring life without adventure. Kristia decides that she wants more and takes a leap of faith and enrolls in Cardiff university for a year abroad and thus begins an adventure she could never have predicted, even in the weird dreams and visions she's had over the years.
When Kristia first meets Ull Myher, her world stands still. Ull is not only the most beautiful man she's ever seen, he's actually a Norse god. The two share a wild wind romance but always hanging over their head is the fact that Ragnarok hasn't happened yet. It's difficult to make plans for the future when the world could come crashing down at any moment. When it is announced that Baldr will die soon, thus setting off the beginning of the war that brings an end to the Asgardians, Kristia knows that she has a decision to make. Will she flee and return to her old life or will she marry Ull and fight side by side against the enemies of Asgard.
I picked up Elsker because I'm an absolute sucker for any story with Norse mythology as its basis. I even over looked the fact that I'm not overly a fan of YA to give this book a chance. Unfortunately, as it turns out, I should have left this one on the shelf. Elsker reads like Twilight fanfic. I'm absolutely positive that S.T. Bende needs to pay Stephanie Meyer royalties for this hot mess masquerading as a tale about Norse Gods.
Kristia is the same kind of blank slate that Bella was in Twilight. It's clear that S.T. Bende wrote her this way so that any white woman could envision herself in this role. There's absolutely nothing interesting about her whatsoever which makes it all the more astounding that Ull manages to scrape together attributes he admires, making her worthy of being his wife. Kristia is clumsy and is either always tripping or is in danger of tripping. Does that remind you of anyone? She's also incredibly insecure and talks constantly about how plain she is and worries about whether or not she's actually good enough to date or even marry Ull. If that were not enough, Kristia also has a puritanical streak and some pretty archaic ideas about modesty and sexual chastity that are extremely outdated coming from anyone who wasn't forced into a purity ball as a teenager. There's also the issue that throughout the novel, Bende cannot seem to decide what age Kristia is. In parts of the novel she's 20 and in others she's 18. Given that Elsker spans less than nine months, such a discrepancy makes absolutely no sense.
As a protagonist, Kristia is simply annoying. Kristia deems all the women around her to be more beautiful than her and more graceful. It's all she bloody talks about. Given that there are only three male characters, Kristia feels inadequate a lot. For all of the female characters in this book, you'd think that Elsker
would pass the Bechdel Test but you'd be wrong. The women may talk briefly about their career ambitions but generally speaking, the conversation always seems to revolve around Kristia's relationship with Ull, or how hot Ull is, or how Kristia wants to become a God so that Ull doesn't have to give up his immortality to be with her. I know that they are sophomore University students but they read instead like 14 year old girls excited about a game of spin the bottle.
Ull, is Bende's version of Edward, and is impossibly old and his language is peppered with archaic phrases. Ull is Asgard's top warrior and the God of winter. Ull tries to calm Kristia's fears that she's unworthy to wed him by revealing that as a warrior, he has killed countless people. Even though this happened in battle, it should be enough to at least give Kristia pause but in true Queen Amidala fashion, Kristia doesn't care that her man literally has blood pouring from his hands.