Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Review #1! Beyonders: A World without Heroes

I really like this book.
Brandon Mull is a good writer and very good storyteller.  I hadn't actually read any of his books until a couple of months ago when someone recommended I read the Fablehaven series.  I borrowed all the books and read them all in two weeks.  That's about as glowing of a recommendation as I can write.

The Subtitle

After I finished reading Fablehaven, I looked to see what his next book would be.  I remember only seeing the title, and I thought, "Wow, what a lame subtitle."

A World without Heroes

I didn't have anything else to judge it on.  All I had seen was the title.  I think for a debut author, it might hurt them more to have a vague subtitle, but Brandon Mull is a New York Times best selling author and has an established fan base.  So even if the subtitle isn't very good, it wouldn't hurt him any.  People have read his books and know they are good, and that says much more than any cover or title would.  Doesn't mean I can't have a little bit of fun with the subtitle though, eh?

A World with Bad Guys
I have no qualms with Beyonders as a stand alone title.  But did they want to save ink and call it A World without Heroes instead of the real title A World Where Bad Things Happen and No One Does Anything About It?

I can imagine the back snippet now... Jason was a boy that was eaten by a hippo and taken to a mysterious world.  To his great surprise he watched a grandma fall down and break her pelvis and no one helped her.  It was a world where bad things happen and no one does anything about it...

That subtitle could mean so many things.  What is a hero to begin with?  Does that mean no firefighters? Police?  I know some people's heroes are their parents, a teacher, a clergyman.  I suppose that when I saw the cover he was talking about a knight slaying a dragon type of hero, but remember I only saw the title first.
Besides, don't most stories start out with a situation where people are in need of a hero, and the main character has to become that hero? If that's the case, this subtitle doesn't really distinguish the book from most other fantasy novels.

More Fun

I love to throw Harry Potter references in my reviews if you haven't noticed, probably because it's my favorite series.  What if J.K. Rowling decided to title Chamber of Secrets this instead:

World with Magic!

Granted, after the popularity of the first Harry Potter, Rowling could have called it Harry Potter and the Big Magic Turd and people would have bought it, because they knew it was good. 

I am not one to put lots of spoilers in my reviews, but I can tell you that the subtitle "A World without Heroes" definitely makes sense and is relevant to the story.  But just because it makes sense, doesn't make it good.  Why call the Harry Potter finale Deathly Hallows?  Instead call it Harry Potter:  Big Magic Fight.

Back to the Review

I wanted to mention at the beginning of my review that I loved the book because I am sure it may sound like I am bashing it, but I am just having some fun.  One of the cool things about Beyonders is that, unlike Fablehaven (which I also like quite a bit), my impression is that Brandon Mull knew exactly where he was taking the story from the get go.  Sometimes Fablehaven dragged on through the five books, but overall it was a great story.  But with this one, I didn't have any problems there.

It's also fun seeing the progression of Brandon Mull as a writer.  Each book he writes seems to be more well written than the last.  I think he borrows some ideas a little bit from Harry Potter, well, the Deathly Hallows in particular, but that's alright.  I didn't think it was a blatant rip off by any means.

It took about fifty pages in before it really grabbed me, but once it did, it never let go.

4 and 1/2 Hippos out of 5. 

1 comment:

  1. great review, MJ, love the hippos (who don't lie) and love that book cover :)