Review | A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders, #1)

Exciting, clever, and perfectly suited for the twelve-year old boy in your home, A World Without Heroes is the first of three in Brandon Mull‘s Beyonder series.

The Goodreads blurb for A World Without Heroes is pretty blase and underwhelming, summarizing a plot that sounds not unlike a dozen other adolescent books. A child or teen, at a crossroads in life, stumbles upon a portal or passageway to another world. Adventures ensue. A way home is found, the child older and wiser.

For example, try C.S. LewisThe Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, or even, if you will, Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up by J.M. Barry and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.And that’s not counting anything else written in the last half a century, like Neil Gaimen’s Coraline or Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials.

Fortunately, Brandon Mull’s story avoids falling victim to the clichés created by a century of the genre, obliterates the blurb and unfolds into a tale that both entertains and satisfies. Perfectly designed for both the young and the young at heart, Mull’s first installment in the Beyonders series starts slow as it builds its characters, then picks up speed as both the plot and stakes climb to exciting levels.

Jason Walker is star pitcher for his baseball team, a good student, is nursing a crush on a cute girl, and has the fortune to volunteer for the local zoo. Fortune, that is, until one day a strange moment at the hippo cage ends with him sliding through a magical portal to another world: Lyrian.

It doesn’t take long for Jason to figure out that the people of Lyrian are under the thumb of a malevolent master, the evil wizard-emperor Maldor. Almost by accident, he sets himself on a path to defeat the wizard, and, with the help of another girl from our world, will find himself fighting strange and fantastical creatures and people to end the Maldor’s cruel reign.

Starting off slow, A World Without Heroes grew on me with each chapter and plot twist. By the time Jason reaches the apex of his quest, I knew that Mull had me.

While A World Without Heroes is aimed at teen or pre-teen boys, the story has a little something for everyone in the family. Mull keeps it clean, making it a great pick to read aloud.

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About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.

  • I’m really glad this isn’t cliche. It kind of looked like it was, but I really loved his Fablehaven series. Thanks for the review. I’m excited to read it now. 🙂

    • Thanks, Jessica. Yeah, it surprised me, as well, though I do warn that it took a few pages to warm up.