Title: A World Without Heroes (Beyonders #1)
Author: Brandon Mull
Jason Walker’s predictable life is turned upside down when a routine trip to the zoo ends with Jason transporting from the hippo tank to the world of Lyrian. In Lyrian, the people live in fear of their malicious wizard emperor, Maldor. Those who oppose him have been destroyed. While searching for a way home, Jason meets a girl from his world, Rachel, and accidentally gets on Maldor’s bad side. Their only way home now is to piece together the magic word that will destroy Maldor.
I’d enjoyed Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven books years ago, so when I learned he wrote a middle grade novel, I figured what the heck, I’d try it.
Right off, though, I had a huge problem with how Jason ended up in Lyrian. He got swallowed by a hippo, for goodness’ sakes! I realized it was a fantasy story, but come on. It was so implausible, I almost gave up on the book.
But I’m glad I didn’t, because once I got over how ridiculous the beginning was, the rest of A World Without Heroes was great.
Jason didn’t have an awful lot of personality. He was brave, definitely, and he usually had a witty reply, but his personality didn’t really come through. I didn’t mind too much while I was reading the story, but I wouldn’t call him a memorable character, either.
Even though Rachel was traveling with Jason for almost the whole book, she seemed like a more minor character. This could be because her personality was fleshed out even less than Jason’s, but I felt like she was just kind of there and not really doing anything important. I’m hoping this will change in future books, because I feel she could be an interesting character if given the chance.
Once I got past the beginning, I enjoyed the plot. I liked the idea of a magic word to destroy the bad guy, although it seemed somewhat strange to me that even though Maldor was a wizard, the only evidence of magic was left over from long-dead wizards. Despite that, the whole world had a distinctly magical feel – although that could just be the quirkiness of the people Jason and Rachel came across in their journey.
There was some danger, but it wasn’t constant. And even when Jason and Rachel were in danger, it didn’t feel very dangerous, if you know what I mean. I never got really worried that something bad might happen. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, the story just didn’t have an element of mortal danger.
One thing that stuck me as odd, though, was how little reaction people had to the fact that Jason and Rachel were two kids traveling alone on some big important quest. Either two kids traveling alone isn’t such a big deal (which I doubt, considering the fact that Maldor discourages traveling of any kind), or it was just glossed over for some purpose.
Overall, I’m glad I gave A World Without Heroes a chance, because it was an interesting middle grade fantasy. And I do plan to read the second Beyonders book, Seeds of Rebellion, as soon as I can find it.