Book Review: Beyonders: A World Without Heroes

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull.  March 2011. (advance copy)

Jason Walker is your average 13-year-old boy. He loves baseball and working at his job in the zoo. His passion for animals ultimately leads him to another universe when he falls into a hippopotamus’ mouth and slides into the land of Lyrian. If this wasn’t disorienting enough, Jason soon discovers Lyrian is no place for outsiders—or “Beyonders” as they’re known.

Lyrian is ruled by a malicious wizard named Maldor whose goal is to put everyone in Lyrian under his thumb. On the search for his home, Jason stumbles across the only way to destroy Maldor. There exists a secret word with seven syllables that, when spoken in Maldor’s presence, will unmake him completely. Now Jason is thrown into a quest to discover all seven syllables in the hopes that once he destroys Maldor, he will learn the way home. As Jason begins his search, he meets Rachel—not only another teenager, but a Beyonder as well. They quickly team up and work together to destroy Maldor, before Maldor can stop them by any means possible.

Brandon Mull shows great promise with this new series. I loved his Fablehaven series, and this new world of Lyrian is even better. Mull creates vicious creatures and magnificent landscapes. One of my favorites are displacers, creatures that look and sound human but can detach and reattach any part of their body. They are also aware of the missing body part, so Maldor uses them as his spies by placing their eyeballs all over the kingdom; then the displacers inform him of what’s happening.

Mull also does a fantastic job with his characters. Jason and Rachel are both smart, courageous but realistic in their abilities. When challenged to a duel, Jason doesn’t become an expert swordsman. Instead his challenges his opponent to billiard balls, where the two competitors throw billiard balls at each other until one dies, which plays to Jason’s strength as a baseball pitcher. In this situation and in many others, Rachel and Jason use their wit and clever instincts to solve their problems.

One thing I wanted to see was a map of the kingdom, so I hope he includes one in the final copy.

This novel is perfect for middle schoolers whose passion lies with fantastical worlds and realistic characters.

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