A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that despite the publisher's recommended age of 8 to 12, this Beyonders sequel to A World Without Heroes continues to be more in-depth and a bit more violent than much middle-grade fantasy. Kids 10 to 14 will better appreciate Seeds of Rebellion's complex world, with many characters and new types of beings to keep track of, as well as the author's musings on bravery, trust, and when to stand up and fight. Older tweens and teens are also better prepared for the frequent battles, the death of good characters (by many violent means), and the ick factor of a disease where worms take over your body and turn you into the walking dead (the good guys have to fight hundreds of these zombies at once). The two teens from Earth caught up in this world, Jason and Rachel, continue to be solid, heroic characters; Rachel even discovers a talent for magic that saves the day a few times.
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What's the story?
Jason can't stand twiddling his thumbs on Earth anymore. He's determined to get back to Lyrian, and luckily for him (and pretty freakily for some zoo patrons), climbing back into a portal in a hippo's mouth does the trick. He's in Lyrian to find Rachel -- his fellow Beyonder who's still stranded -- and is in serious danger of getting captured again by the dreaded wizard Maldor in the process. Jason needs some help, fast. He finds it in Aram, a half-giant fighting machine, and, surprisingly, in Ferrin, the Displacer who betrayed Jason, then saved him, in the first Beyonders book, A World Without Heroes. A reunion with Rachel is just the start of Jason's adventures, however, when Galloran, the king in hiding, resurfaces and tries to amass any forces he can against Maldor. Galloran takes a delegation to see the Seed People in their stronghold of The Seven Vales. They must be convinced to fight Maldor, or there will be no winning the war against him.
Is it any good?
Author Brandon Mull's very fertile imagination is at it again in SEEDS OF REBELLION. The world he creates is a fascinating one, and a whole lot of crazy characters are in play. There are man-eating giants and worm-infested zombies, swamp tentacle creatures, nightmare-inducing shadow beings (lurkers or torivors), giant swamp-dwelling former magicians and manglers (you can guess what they do), and, of course, an evil wizard mastermind with a penchant for torture at the center of it all. You'd think the good guys moving against them were up for a heck of a fight -- and you'd be right.
Things do get exciting and tense -- and occasionally weird and icky with the whole worm-zombie thing. But the biggest problem with Seeds of Rebellion is, in a word, wordiness. Lengthy discussions continually slow down the action. They'd be great for a fan website, but they shouldn't weigh down the story like they do. Every once in a while Mull strikes gold, like when Jason and Ferrin talk about the latter's trustworthiness; it really gets you thinking. But usually it's just too much development. No need to relay the happenings of a conclave start to finish -- just get to the duel, already.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fantasy books and sequels. How does Seeds of Rebellion hold up against the first in the series, A World Without Heroes? How do you think the author is setting up the story for the big finish?
Discuss author Brandon Mull's special brand of magic for this series. How does it compare to other takes on magic?
Jason and Ferrin discuss whether Ferrin is trustworthy. Why do you think Jason holds out hope that Ferrin has changed? Would you trust Ferrin?
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