Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1)

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Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1)
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
September 10, 2013
ISBN
978-0545522434
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#1 New York Times bestseller Brandon Mull launches Scholastic's brand-new multiplatform phenomenon.

Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed forever.

Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers . . . and on you.

Part engrossing book series, part action role-playing game - discover your spirit animal and join the adventure in Fall 2013.

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A Must-Read Middle Grade Series
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5.0
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5.0
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Throw anything at me concerning kids being mystically chosen for some magical group and you’re pretty much guaranteed that I’ll instantly fall in love. Whether it’s Hogwarts newbies throwing on the Sorting Hat to determine their House, or Camp Half-Blood kids getting put into cabins based on their godly moms and dads, I go magnificently crazy thinking about what group I’d be best suited for. So when I was asked whether I would like a book about kids who are spiritually linked to specific animals in a quest to end a maniacal villain from world domination, the response was a resounding, “DUH.” “Wild Born,” Scholastic’s first book in its Spirit Animals series, is said book, and will have kids like me mulling over what animal they’d love to have accompanying them for the rest of their lives.

“Wild Born” is set in the world of Erdas in which eleven-year-old boys and girls drink from a mysterious nectar that aids in linking humans with their spirit animal. This link only occurs for a small minority of people, and “Wild Born” follows four preteens as they are linked to the most surprising animals Erdas has ever seen: the Four Fallen. This group of spirit animals sacrificed their lives to save Erdas from an evil enemy – the Devourer – centuries past. Many in Erdas thought the Fallen were a legend, but thanks to their linkage to four children – Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan – the people of Erdas are learning that the stories of the Fallen were true after all. Their return also signals the rise of the Devourer, or someone who supports his goals of destruction.

What I loved about “Wild Born” and the link the children have between their spirit animals is that the link is not predictable. Whereas children are chosen for their Hogwarts House based on clear cut personality traits like bravery, loyalty, or determination, the characteristics that drew the Fallen to these four children are not so obvious. Meilin, for example, is an expertly trained warrior, and has a difficult time bonding with her panda, Jhi, because Jhi’s just not as fierce or intimidating as Meilin would like. Rollan similarly receives the cold shoulder (or wing) from his gyrfalcon, Essix. While they are all bound by their cause to save Erdas, they are not necessarily bonded in friendship. The story arc of these children learning to bond with their spirit animals is something I really look forward to as the series progresses.

“Wild Born” is also a great introduction for middle grade readers into a medieval-like setting. Medieval speech and society definitely appears more formal than what kids experience today, but Mull delivers this with a middle grade mentality, allowing young readers to still relate to eleven-year-olds in a time that has no resemblance to our way of life whatsoever. This seems like a great stepping-stone for young readers into formal fantasy epics like “The Lord of the Rings.”

With this digestible medieval setting, middle grade adventure, and the potential for many a “who’s got the best spirit animal” conversation, “Wild Born” is a must read.
Good Points
Relatable protagonists for boys and girls.
Digestible introduction into more formal medieval writing.
Exotic animals from all corners of the earth.
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Unique Take On Spirit Animals
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4.5
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4.0
Four children, Abeke, Meilin, Conor and Rollan, undergo a sacred ceremony and are forever bonded to four spirit animals; a leopard, panda, wolf and falcon. Though they are all thousands of miles apart they will be brought together by their quest to stop the evil Devourer. Each of the children has summoned a powerful beast of legend making their bond even rarer and more important. Not only must they stop the evil forces but they are being hunted by the Devourer's forces who want the power the four possess.

I love that there are a variety of landscapes and different races of people from the Chinese-style land of Zhong to the Australian landscape of Stetriol. It makes it interesting to have a different backdrop for every character in the beginning.

Each character also has a different life style. Meilin is the daughter of a highly respected general, Conor is the son of a farmer and the servant of a local lord's son, Abeke lives in a drought-ridden village in the savanna and Rolland is a homeless street urchin. Each has a different perspective on life and their new animal companions. The four are thoroughly different in personality, from sarcastic Rollan to arrogant Meilin. As the novel continues they all development and grow just a little.

I love the magic of the spirit animals, frankly, I would love to have one! The animals can go into a dormant state, becoming a tattoo on their human's body. They may not be able to talk as such but they can lend strength and skill to their human whilst having their own way of wordless communication. This is something I think anyone who has ever owned a pet can easily relate to.
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