Title: The Beyonders
Author: Brandon Mull
Price: $7.99 ($3.99-Amazon)
Rating: 4 out of 5/ A Good Long Wee
Lemony Snicket once attempted to define a simple word and unintentionally created one of the most beautiful statements found today in children's books. It read "Sanctuary... is a word which here means a small, safe place in a troubling world. Like an oasis in a vast desert or an island in a stormy sea." However the profound thing about a sanctuary is that it can be small enough to fit in your pocket and be as fragile as cardboard and paper, but still give you protection in even the most chaotic turmoil. Brandon Mull is a master craftsman of sanctuaries and has created an island for many children within their own stormy seas. Now he offers us a new place to take shelter, a place where I have found a beautiful oasis and anyone can drink deeply of imagination.
Jason was having a bad day, he looked like an idiot in front of a cute girl, gave himself a concussion, and was late for work. But the absolute worst part of the day was when he was eaten alive by a hippopotamus and woke up in a tree. As Jason bewilderingly stumbles around this new world two things are instantly clear 1: everything looks depressingly medieval and 2: a bunch of musicians are about to throw themselves over a waterfall...
Brandon Mull is a brilliant writer and a claimed "wizard with words" but he falls into the same trap that stumbled Tolkien.Within the story is a wealth of adventure and danger but in between is a hell of a lot of walking. I understand that adventure is a mobile sport but do we really need to know about all the sweaty steps and awkward places they slept? And while many of the characters are richly built some are a bit two dimensional and seem to jump in and out of the story confusingly. Understand that these complaints are minimal almost to the point of obscurity. Brandon Mull is one of the current stars on the writing field and unfortunately its my job to fill something that will pass as a paragraph with complaints.
What won't be difficult is filling a paragraph with all the pros of the book. To be honest I could write a thesis on everything that Brandon Mull does right with his writing techniques. At first glance the story seems unoriginal and cookie cutter but Mull uses your assumptions to keep flipping the story on it's head. The dialog flows organically and never becomes frustrating even when the accents start showing up. He even manages to grow and blossom a romance between the two main characters, making it fun and awkward without forcing the reader to cringe from cheesy lines. But by far the very best part of the book is the villain. Something great has been created here, a villain with a taste for evil that is rarely seen in this genera. The evil king is such a great character that he single handedly elevates the story into something edgy, new, and spectacular.
So Beyonders gets a 4 out of 5 or a good long Wee and comes with my highest recommendations. Children's stories are evolving into something edgy and marvelous leaving writers and readers of all ages scrambling to read them. No matter what storms are raging in your life right now Brandon Mull offers you a sanctuary that only a fool would pass up.