Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes

Published by Simon and Schuster

Jason, an eighth grader, hears strange music coming from the hippo's cage at the zoo where he works. As he investigates, he suddenly finds himself sliding down the hippo's throat (!) into a different world. Here begins the first of a trilogy for juveniles about a land called Lyrian.

Jason soon meets Rachel, also from the Beyond (our own world), and they team up to destroy the evil wizard, Maldor, who is the dictator of Lyrian. They fall in with several different characters at various times, cause havoc and chaos throughout the countryside and are able to overcome many obstacles far too easily. I did not really feel for either character and wished for more character development between the two teens.

I have not read any of Mull's other books but after reading this one I am not convinced that Mull is a good writer. Of course, I have decided lately that most editor's are actually paid according to how many pages the writer produces rather than seeing if the writing is actually consistent and (even in the case of fantasy) somewhat plausible. I found myself wondering about every other chapter if Jason was 17 or 40. Sometimes his choices and decisions were immature – but way too focused on the future for someone still in middle school. I think Mull may have begun the book thinking of Jason as eligible to drive but later changed his mind without really seeing how that effected the remainder of the book. At other times, Jason sounded like an adult. He tries to save nine people at the beginning of his time in Lyrian but disobeys the rules of where he ends up staying and therefore gets himself in trouble. Granted, the book's plot does heavily rest on his problems and lack of obedience.

Perhaps I am so far from the middle school mindset to get this book. But I have read others aimed at the same age that were far better. I will probably read the next book simply out of curiosity but I am not waiting with baited breath for March of 2012.

What did this book have to do with my faith? I found myself thinking of persons that I have met throughout my life that helped me in some way. In many cases I never knew their names and will probably never see them again in this life. I thought about how I have trusted some of them even when I did not know anything about them. One person comes to mind – a Londoner in 1977 who helped my parents and myself get transportation back to our hotel very late one night after a play. In helping us, he was not able to take the Tube to his own home. He received no payment but our own thanks and knowledge that we made it safely. Jason depends heavily on many such strangers in Lyrian. How often have I been such a hospitable Christian in my own life?

I do not recommend Beyonders: A World Without Heroes. However, my nine year old son still wants to read it!

Happy reading!


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