Today I am finally reviewing a Brandon Mull book. I’ve talked about Brandon Mull a lot on my channel, and I’m finally discussing one of his series. I first read Beyonders when it came out in 2011, and I reread it right before the second book came out in 2012 and again in May of 2020. I’m sharing a spoiler-free review, and at the end of the post, I will discuss some spoiler-related things that inform my opinion of the book.
I’m going to start with the worldbuilding and setting. The premise of the story is that a 13-year-old boy named Jason is transported from Earth to Lyrian. I love that Mull includes other human-like races in this series. In addition to humans, Lyrian is also home to three other races. Two of them make an appearance in this first book. The settings in this book aren’t very unique. They’re very much your stereotypical medieval Europe settings. However, Mull does include some magical elements that make it a little more unique. I like the Repository of Learning. It’s kind of an interesting place for Jason to start out in on this foreign planet. I also like the idea of the Eternal Feast, which is something the antagonist offers to his enemies to keep them from fighting him. The antagonist is considered undefeatable, and many people eventually give up or are captured, and that’s when they accept his offer to join the Eternal Feast.
As for the plot, I think it’s really well done. The foreshadowing in this book is great. The prologue gives us a promise that is delivered throughout the story. I like that very early on Jason gets hit in the head with a baseball, and so he uses that as an explanation for all the strange things that happen when he gets transported to Lyrian. He of course realizes it’s not the baseball, but I like that it adds a layer of complication to the situation. This book also has a great plot twist toward the end. Mull is a master of plot twists, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. I like the duel as well.
With the characters, I like that Jason is well developed. We see various aspects of his personality before he goes on his adventure in Lyrian. However, Jason sleeps way too much. Like, he sleeps so much that it’s one of his character traits. I also want to know more about Jason’s family. We’re told about them, but we’re never shown them, and given what I know from reading the other books, I think it’s important for readers to see some interactions between Jason and his family.
Another thing I like is when we meet Tark. That’s an interesting moment for the characters. The first times I read this book, my favorite character was Jasher, but this time I like Ferrin more. I really like Ferrin’s arc too. He changes a lot over the course of the book, and I enjoy following his arc. I think Maldor, the antagonist, needs more development. He seems too evil-for-the-sake-of-evil, and I want to know more about him and his motivations. Overall, the character descriptions are well done. My biggest complaint is that there are twice as many male main characters as there are female ones.
In terms of the writing itself, there are some issues I have with it that are generally nitpicky. There are some grammatical errors, and many of the dialogue tags are the kind that are distracting to me. I find this a little strange given that Mull is one of the authors who advises writers use said instead of other words, and yet he doesn’t follow that advice in this book. There are also some clichés. The narration dominates some parts of the story, and there’s a lot of telling rather than showing and backstory infodumps. I also have a lot of questions about things that are never clarified or appear to be minor plot holes. I do, however, like the humor that’s infused in the writing throughout the book, as there are some great funny moments.
Overall, I find this story very engaging. When I first started my reread, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it through the story, but it picked up and improved after all the infodumping, telling, and overall heavy narration in the beginning.
Now I’m going to discuss a few things that are spoilers. A couple of them have to do with the Battle of Wits. I love Rachel’s question that she comes up with. It demonstrates just how intelligent she is. There were a couple things that could’ve come across as unbelievable, and I was skeptical of them at first, but Mull did a good job of writing them in a way that made them believable. One is Jason winning in the Battle of Wits. The other is how the main characters manage to get so much money to fund their activities.
There are three more things I’m not a fan of. One is the convenience of Rachel showing up at a tavern right after Jason does. This should have a better explanation, so it doesn’t read like a convenient coincidence. I also think finding the last syllable (which is the Word’s second syllable) is too easy. It’s more interesting when it poses a challenge for the characters. The final thing I didn’t like is that the characters don’t mourn Jasher. I know he’s basically immortal and will be back eventually, but I still think the non-Amar Kabal characters would mourn his death, even if it’s temporary.
Those are my thoughts on the first Beyonders book. What do you think of it? Have you read it? Are you interested in reading it? Let me know in the comments down below.