Brandon Mull, best known for his Fablehaven fantasy series, is back with A World Without Heroes, the first in a three-book series called The Beyonders. Mull creates an alternate world, Lyrian, which needs a hero to overturn an evil emperor. Enter Jason, an average 12-year-old Colorado kid, who falls through a hippo’s mouth and ends up in Lyrian and quickly becomes entangled in its intrigue and adventure. Rachel, a gutsy and clever homeschooler, who also unwittingly ends up in Lyrian, joins him in the quest. These two Beyonders (what Lyrians call people from Earth) attempt to find and piece together the syllables that form a secret word that can destroy the evil emperor when uttered in his presence.
Broadway actor and new narrator Jeremy Bobb shines with the varied and numerous characters. He seamlessly switches among the dozens of characters while keeping them distinct and recognizable in the dialogue-heavy scenes. However, Bobb’s performance is too low energy for the material. This flatness emphasizes some stilted writing and undermines the exciting action sequences.
In A World Without Heroes, Mull successfully creates a full, rich fantastical world. In keeping with the fantasy genre, he includes wizards and invents fun creatures, such as displacers, who can remove and reattach body parts. Though the writing is somewhat mediocre and his protagonists not fully developed, the novel is still entertaining. There are several interesting and shocking plot twists and turns that make this better than the average fantasy. Mull knows his audience and the action, humor, and fast pace are perfect for his readership. The content is age-appropriate and, with both male and female protagonists, adults can enjoy listening with their sons and daughters.
A World Without Heroes is a nice addition to the middle school fantasy genre. Mull fans and fantasy fans will love this new series. Listeners who latch onto Bobb’s character interpretation will anxiously await the next Beyonders installment. Julie MacDonald
Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable - until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcmoed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.
In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.
©2011 Brandon Mull (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
Brandon Mull is certainly in no want of vocabulary. But the world painted in this first book starts off as a pretty middle-of-the-road fantasy. What he does do is lay a solid foundation for the world and the reasons for its unusual inhabitants, even as to why everyone speaks English.
The cleverness really starts to shine when we meet some of the alternate races that inhabit the land. Their abilities are well-thought-out and employed cleverly within the story.
The villian, Maldor (really?), is also a step up from the usually-faceless baddies by having some actual character, and some actual interaction with the protagonists.
The books probably can also win a prize for the cleverest world-transitioning mechanism yet devised.
The story is a series of puzzles that have to be solved, and some of the solutions are clever, while others are pure luck. I'm still ambivilant about whether that was good or bad.
The biggest down-side was the performance. The voice-work was very well-done, with each of the primary characters given a distinct voice and manner of speach that made it easy to follow who was talking, especially later on when the party grows in number. However, there is a passive quality to the reading that really shows up in some of the action scenes, that makes it sound like we're listening to a report rather than a story. Some of that can be attributed to the passive language chosen in the writing, but much of it was due to the pacing of the reading.
But despite that complaint, it was a good, original fantasy, and worth the time.
I love reading a book and listening to a book.
I love this book and highly recommend the series to anyone who loves classic adventure fantasy.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
This one book broken into three parts... so if you purchase the first you will need to purchase the next two to complete the story. I listened to the beginning a few times without getting hooked (a little too YA)... but when I finally got into it... found it an enjoyable world he had created, with interesting rules and peoples. It is written for YA and because of the extensive violence during wars and battles it would not be a good read for younger children. The last book is darker than the end of Harry Potter series. Many of the main characters die in some pretty icky ways in the overcoming of evil. Although the plot had a predictable ending, getting there had some interesting turns and twists along the way. I agree the narrator improves with each book, but wasn't bad with the first.
The book was targeted towards younger teens. I am not in that age range so I did not find this book to appealing.
After six chapters I just could not take it any more. I even think the narrator was bored. Try Butcher or Hearne for well writen books.
I love listening to books while I walk and drive.
The story teller is good, the way it is written and read brings the world to life. Can't wait to get the next one.
The Story is almost as good to me as Potter.
My favorite scene was when he was at the feast and realized that you never get anywhere by staying where you are comfortable.
I wish they would make these a movie, It would probably read Classic in the making, Exciting, adventure.
Highly recommended. Anyone who likes YA fiction should try these.
Do you like the dialogue level of writing in Scooby Doo cartoons? Then you'll slide right through this book without a cringe. This is written at a sixth grade level, and that is being generous. The authors concept is interesting, and full of potential, but it remains unfullfilled. There is zero character development through events, and zero plot tension, at least in the first half of the book. I couldn't go any further. It was boring. All you learn about the characters is through the dialogue, and did I mention it is inane. Example: he said, "insert four words here", she said "insert five words here", he said "insert one word here". That's how all the dialogue is written. I guess it wouldn't have been so obviously bad except the reader drones in a monotone, put you to sleep voice. Fortunately every sentence of dialogue is preceded by he said, she said so you know which character is speaking, but there are no unique voices or characterization for anyone except a few transient characters. It's poorly written and poorly read, but probably still good for 5th and 6th graders who have an interest in magic and Scooby Doo.
A dreamer who loves the adventures hidden in every story!!
I really enjoyed the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull and likewise this first book in the Beyonders saga does not disappoint. It is narrated really well and the story grips you from start to finish. The characters are well thought out and very well written.
The story starts out with Jason getting accidently drawn into another world through a hippo. When he gets there all he wants to do is find a way home. Along the way he discovers a secret that he needs to see to fruition if he wants to survive and get home. During his quest he meets an interesting plethora of characters that add both a touch of humor and intrigue to the story.
If YA fiction is your kind of thing, and you have enjoyed the Fablehaven series, then definitely give this a go. I am starting the second book and looking quite forward to it.
Wasn't sure I was going to like it at the beginning but it grew on me as the story unfolded. Just ordered the second book and will be anxious form a third.
This was a well written, well narrated story with some innovative characters and nice plot twists. Kind of a light hearted fun story, not a real serious fantasy. Check it out.
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