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5.0 1
Middle Grade Fiction 322
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This book is another to add to my "everything I want in a middle grade" list.

The pacing is spot on here. Considering the story spans at least a month or two, it's no small feat to keep the reader engaged as well as give a real sense of the time passing. Occasionally it would mention a couple days or weeks had passed, but it didn't feel completely offhand and jarring. Mull managed to give an idea of how that skipped time had passed, provide a glimpse of how it felt for the characters, and make you feel as if you hadn't missed all too much within a couple sentences and I really appreciated that. It felt completely realistic for the characters to have been there that long considering they were traversing a whole land and doing by foot and horseback for the most part.

I really enjoyed all the characters that were met along the journey. Since there were so many, I did find it difficult to put personalities to names at times, but I never felt frustrated by it. Mull does a good job of giving life to each character Jason and Rachel come across, whether they were in a good bit of the story or disappeared soon after the introduction. A few of these passing characters don't last long (if you know what I mean), but it shows Mull's talent all the more since I felt emotion for the death of characters I'd only known for a few short pages. I especially loved the Loremaster and Ferrin so I hope we'll get to see a bit more of them in future book.

Of course, I can't talk about characters without mentioning our two main stars. I'd say Jason is the main character, but only by a little. Rachel plays a fantastic role in the journey and gets a few of her own shining moments. I enjoyed their interactions a good bit. Rachel isn't afraid to put her foot down and call Jason out for trying to be the Boy Who Saves the Day and insists upon doing her fair share. And Jason does a good job of proving to Rachel (and the reader) he's not just guy looking for the glory of saving the day. I loved how loyal Jason was to those he cared for and that, though he wished to avoid hurting anyone, he was willing to do what needed to be done. I'm pretty sure I couldn't a duel to the death with billiard balls.

Mull has created a detailed world with a rich background that I'm dying to know more about. A lot of the history of the world is explained, but I'm hoping he goes even deeper into it in the following books. I mean, what's up with all the wizards dying off? It's mostly explained, but I still want a little more to go on.

The Nutshell: I'll be putting the next two books on hold at my library immediately. I loved Mull's start to the Beyonders series. The world is very well detailed, the characters are diverse and memorable, and the story completely intriguing. The pacing was done in such a way that I was never bored or confused by the break-neck speed of the story. There's always just enough to keep you both in the moment and wondering what will happen next.

Direct Hit
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