Beyonders is the one of the few young adult novels I’ve read in a while, as most of the available Overdrive books are aimed toward adults. I LOVE young adult books as they’re typically cleaner and more story driven than a lot of adult fiction I’ve read.
I finished listening to A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) the same day as Mistborn: Alloy of Law. While I enjoyed both books for different reasons, I’m not as impressed with Beyonders as I hoped I would be.
A Quick Glance at the Plot
Jason leads a normal life: he works at a zoo, his parents are dentists, and all he wants to do is play baseball.
That life is turned upside down when he hears mysterious music coming from a hippo at the zoo – he falls in, and Whoosh – he’s whisked away on a magical adventure with an evil wizard and a wise king, and a giant crab.
Similarly, Rachel lead a normal life: she home schooled with her parents and liked hiking in the woods.
Like Jason, her life is turned upside down when she spots an unusual butterfly. She chases it – and of course, she’s whisked away, too. She meets up with Jason, and together they have to save the world by acquiring a magic word that will supposedly destroy the evil wizard.
Yeah…that’s it in a nutshell.
My Experience With the Book
Unfortunately, my biggest gripe about the book is the setting and the story – both are incredibly cliche. Two kids are mysteriously transported from the real world into a fantasy world. There they have to find a way to defeat an all-powerful wizard who rules the world with an iron fist. They encounter some friends, see some cool and interesting fantasy things, are betrayed, and then captured, and yada yada yada.
The reason I loved Brandon Mull’s other books is because he came up with some incredibly unique settings with fun new twists. For example, Fablehaven was a magical reserve for fantasy creatures – like a zoo but better. While The Candy Shop War involved kids who did some fairly crazy things with magical candy. Both of these settings and situations still involve magic and still involve kids from the real world – but with a fresh, new twist you don’t see in other books. Unfortunately, Beyonders fell a bit short in the setting and plot department, so I was fairly disappointed with it.
On the other hand, Brandom Mull still held his characters up to a higher standard than most young adult writers. He lets his characters act and behave in their own way, so they feel more human (and more teen-like) than other main characters in similar novels. He lets his characters have bathroom breaks, be afraid of ordinary things like heights, and fall asleep without meaning to. Though they have their own moral high ground, they also make decisions based on false information and make mistakes as they learn about new things.
The book was a lighthearted read, like his other books, but I felt the story was missing some of the charm, originality, and heart that I’m used to seeing from Brandon Mull. It was a fun book to listen to casually, but I didn’t feel as invested in the characters’ circumstances as I could have been.
If you’re looking for a clean, filler book, then go ahead and read Beyonders. But, Brandon Mull has more interesting books to read if you’re looking for something more substantial.
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