*Note: I received Beyonders book 1: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull from Simon & Schuster Canada for review. I was not paid but received the ARC for free
This is a fantastic book of adventure that will appeal to both boys and girls. Jason’s quest is interesting and full of cool creatures and characters. From the very first quote, full of irony, I knew I would enjoy Mull’s sense of humour. There was a chapter near the end of the book where I was laughing out loud in fits of giggles because it was so ridiculous and awesome.
I have mixed feelings about an enemy who has the power to kill instantly but prefers to toy with his victims. This is overly convenient, like the bad guy who tells the hero the whole plan allowing him the chance to succeed. On the other hand I like devious villains who go for more than the obvious kill….
I’m concerned that this book is not being marketed to the right age group. The ARC indicates it’s for ages 8-12 but I strongly disagree with this for several reasons
- The vocabulary: I enjoyed the language, that sounded a lot more academic and sophisticated than many YA novels but I don’t know many 8 year-olds who know “engendered”, “endeavor”, “embittered”, “laced” as in poisoned, “meandered”, “auditory hallucination” and many more challenging words. I found the diction to be more appropriate to older teens or adults, certainly not 10 and under. With the exception of “super-cool” that was thrown in a few times and felt awkward and out-of-place, I thought the writing was smooth and elegant. Unfortunately throwing in the “super-cool” just seemed like trying too hard and didn’t accomplish making the book accessible to that audience.
- The violence: The book begins with a man being tortured. I think middle age novels can have some violence and a dose of reality but I think a lot of parents will object to their children reading about people being tortured to the point of breaking, even if the torture is not described in detail. I was having mord-sith flashbacks from Terry Goodkind’s novels and those are NOT FOR KIDS!
- Mature themes: addiction, gluttony and complacency were beautifully demonstrated. I loved the line, “most pleasures are best as a seasoning, not the main course”. The trouble is that I think a slightly older age group would better understand the addiction and apathy aspects of the novel.
An aspect of the book that appealed to my nerdy side was the power of words. The tyrant ruled by preventing learning and forbidding the organization of information (like drawing maps). I think his limitations on learning were more effective than his violence, and I am fascinated by this as one who promotes learning and sorting of info.
I did not have anything in common with the loremaster. I don’t understand how a librarian can believe that a text handed down from unknown origins is more credible than one with a known author. He said they were harder to dismiss but I disagree, if I don’t know who the author is I question the validity of anything in the material (when it comes to non-fiction). I like to know the education, work history ect. of a historian before I believe what he/she writes, and I would certainly not trust anonymous more than a specific source. I also disliked that he made the library inaccessible on purpose to make sure only serious scholars would come.
I would recommend this to teens, especially boys who like baseball, biology, or adventure stories. I would caution about the age discrepancies though, and put it in the YA section of my library rather than JR.