Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Beyonders: A World Without Heroes" by Brandon Mull Review

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders)

Best known as the author of the popular Fablehaven series, Mull offers a new fantasy adventure, in which Jason and Rachel, two American kids, are separately drawn into an alternate world called Lyrian. They want to return home, but they don't know how. Aided by Rachel, the Blind King, and other allies, 13-year-old Jason undertakes a quest to discover the magical word needed to overthrow Maldor, Lyrian's evil emperor. The two teens set out to find the word's closely guarded syllables while thwarting the maneuvers of Maldor's crafty, vicious minions. Headlong adventure scenes, inventively conceived creatures, and surprising plot twists all figure into the mix as Jason and Rachel make their way through this treacherous world. The book's conclusion is not so much an ending as a respite before the beginning of the sequel. Readers seeking character-driven fiction should look elsewhere, but those drawn to long, action-filled fantasies may want to try Mull's latest. Grades 4-7--Booklist

I'm a fan of Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series so I was excited to see this at the library last week. It starts slowly, but give it time and you'll be rewarded. I hope to read this to my sons in the future. 
It's appropriate for older children, I'd say middle school age or older. There are some upsetting scenes, including one where a group of musicians purposefully commits suicide by going over a waterfall. The hero, Jason, gets beaten up and captured on a regular basis and everyone suffers in some way during their quest to undo the evil Emperor Maldor. 
Fablehaven taught its lessons with a bit more subtlety and had more character growth than Beyonders. This book is more of a straightforward quest story, although Jason does have to make a conscious decision to be a hero even when the odds are stacked sky-high against him. 
There are crosses and double crosses, betrayals and rescues, escapes and near misses, lots of action and adventure. I think boys would love this book but hey, I'm a grown-up girl and I thought it was great!Jason's traveling companion, Rachel, is a smart and competent homeschooled student and I really appreciated that Mull didn't go in for the stereotyping of homeschoolers as socially awkward and weird. :) 
The Displacers are one of the most interesting creations I've read in any kids' book, ever. I'll let you discover who and what they are for yourself! 
I can't wait to see where this series goes. I was really happy with this book and will be reading the rest of the series. 
4 Cupcakes

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