Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable–until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he’s ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.
In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.
When I first read this synopsis, I thought the title of this book was the stupidest thing ever. I was like, So, basically, the synopsis: A boy gets transported through a hippo tank to a magical world. Hmm. Okay. I’ll try to get past that. Then, he meets a girl. Typical, textbook. They wander the land that they have to save. Because they just have to do that to get home. Again with the predictable! Then they meet people who help them along the way. So it’s a world with hidden heroes that gains heroes who have to do stuff to get back home. That’s stupid! It means the title doesn’t apply! There’s hidden heroes, for one thing. That means there are heroes, they’re just hidden. And the land gains heroes, so it gets heroes and is no longer a world without heroes, but it was a never a world without heroes in the first place!
And I was dwelling over these fact for a long time before I finally picked up the book to read it. Call me a critic.
This book is really creepy, for one thing. I was in Whistler, B.C., Canada, on a ski/snowboard trip when I read this book. I was downstairs in the room I picked, and there were a lot of rooms. And all the lights were turned off. So I got kind of freaked out about midway through the book and didn’t get to sleep for a while.
Then this book has some meaningless dialogue that annoyed me. Lots of dialogue is okay, I have lots of dialogue in my stories, as long as it’s well written and it says something about a) the current situation, b) is really funny or c) says something big about the character(s). Meaningless dialogue example:
“You’re just a character in my dream.”
“I didn’t mean my love interest,” she replied defensively. “You’d have better hair. You’re the character I dreamed up because the rest of the dream was making me homesick.”
“Maybe you’re the character I dreamed up to scare myself awake.”
“That’s not very nice!”
“You made fun of my hair. I like it this way. Short and simple.”
I don’t mind short. Mine is short.”
“Then what’s wrong with mine?” Jason challenged.
“Maybe we should talk about something else.”
“Like the guy on a horse coming to kill us?”
“It needs more style,” she muttered.
“I forgot to bring my gel when I got eaten by a hippo.”
The thing is, that passage isn’t reasonably funny, we already knew that there was a person coming to kill them and we already knew that Rachel was annoying.
Despite all the problems I had with this book, it was fairly good. I know it’ll appeal a lot to it’s target audience. There’s a lot of action and adventure themes to this book, with notes of suspense, mystery, creepiness and fantasy.
I wasn’t as much a fan of the characters in this story, but most of them were pretty well-formed. I didn’t like Rachel, but Jason was well-done. I was a fan of Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series, and I’m looking forward to the next installment of this series to see what happens. There’s a good, fast pace to this that I know readers will enjoy. Jason and Rachel both grew as characters, which was really great. 3.7 stars. This book just wasn’t for me.
pg count for the hardback: 457
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