3 out of 5 Droomla for The Beyonders

Posted Jul 21 2011, 1:10 pm in

July’s pick for Book Hungry is World Without Heroes: The Beyonders, by Brandon Mull.

What It’s About

This is from Goodreads: “Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable–until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he’s ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.”

What I Thought

Okay, I get the whole ‘quest’ thing. But it seemed forced that Jason, a 13-year-old kid, never seemed the least bit frightened by the world he fell into, the dangers of the quest itself, or that the last person who tried using this magic word on the emperor failed miserably. I just never believed the characters were real.

This book is first in a new series aimed for middle grades and while I’d like to blame the fact that I am no longer in middle grade as the reason for my failure to connect with this story, I can’t. I did engage on a very deep level with Harry Potter.

What Went Wrong For Me

The first chapters opened well. We are introduced to Jason and his friends and Jason’s normal, mundane life. I might have enjoyed the story more if one of his friends fell down the hippo with him, but only Jason fell into the Lyrian world. I wondered why and not only was that never answered, it wasn’t even truly referenced – like Harry’s scar, and later, the prophecy. In HP, we always had a sense that there was something special about Harry, first as The Boy Who Lived, and later, as the Chosen One. That teaser was missing here and I was further perplexed when Jason later meets Rachel, another “Beyonder” sucked into Lyrian. Why these two? What is so special about them? I don’t know.

Another issue for me was the humor. Jason is a wise-cracking kid and that’s great. But the wise-cracks were simply dropped on the page with little inner monologue to connect them to what Jason was actually feeling. I read Hatchet years ago and that story is still bouncing around in my mind because its protagonist always let us feel his fear and hopelessness. There is a scene in a cave where the hero tries to start a fire and cannot. In his frustration, “Brian” flings his hatchet where it clatters against the cave wall, sending up a shower of sparks. I, as the reader, felt monumental relief along with Brian because I’d also been able to feel his fear, his coldness, and his anxiety.

What Was Great

Each chapter in World Without Heroes is another step on the quest to find the Word and – hopefully – his way back to his own world. The world itself isn’t so different; just older, more medieval. But the characters Jason meets are rich and unique like people who can remove limbs and heads at will, or people who can grown new bodies when their current one dies. Jason’s adventures were more fun than they were frightening, which is great for the children comprising the target audience.

Overall, I’d give it three out of five droomla – that’s the currency used in the Lyrian world.

Have you read this book? What did you think? If you’re still considering it, please read the other Book Hungry reviews. Follow the links on the right. 



2 responses to “3 out of 5 Droomla for The Beyonders”

  1. abby says:

    i like how you gave your overall opinion and then broke down the reasons why you didn’t like it. i agreed with all of your reasons for not loving the book, but most especially why the humor fell flat.

    a teacher once told me that the humor has to come from the story. the humor does NOT come from the story in THE BEYONDERS, but rather, from what the author supposes is funny, and for me, that’s why i didn’t laugh. the lines didn’t resonate.

    great review!

  2. ha! I made a Harry Potter reference in my review too. Great minds think alike, huh?

    I’m not finished with it yet, but soon…i hope…maybe