Title: A World Without Heroes
Series: Beyonders #1
Author: Brandon Mull
ISBN: 9781416997924
Pages: 454 pages
Publisher/Date: Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2011.

He attempted to double back to the reading area, but could not find that, either. Instead, he came to a different open area, where the only furnishing was a black pedestal surmounted by a huge book.[…]
The book appeared to be bound in human skin. Upon close-examination Jason observed that the fleshy covering had tiny pores, fine hairs like the ones on his arm, and light blue veins visible beneath the surface.
Aghast, he tentatively touched the surface, withdrawing his finger instantly. It was warm to the touch, with a yielding texture that suggested more thickness than he had expected. It felt alive. […]
Thumbing through the remainder of the yellowed pages, Jason found them all blank. He closed the tome.
The covering of the book had broken out into gooseflesh. So had Jason.
Could the admonitions he had read be real? Surely the book was of no great importance if it lay up here in this dusty attic. Behind the most intricately locked door he had ever seen. In a library hidden in the middle of the forest. Oh, crud.
Suddenly a flap of skin lifted on the center of the cover, revealing a glaring eye. A human eye. (61-64)

Jason Walker’s day starts out like any ordinary day. He does some batting practice with his friends, chats with the girls who pass by, and then volunteer at the family owned local zoo. It’s then that Jason’s day becomes anything but ordinary as he gets sucked inside the hippo and transported into Lyrian, a world of political intrigue and fantastical magic, both of which make it difficult to know who to trust. Paired with a home-schooled girl from Jason’s own world named Rachel who also appeared in Lyrian at about the same time Jason did they both unknowingly get thrust into a battle of wits and endurance against the dictatorial ruler, the wizard Maldor. Will Jason and Rachel be able to help their new “friends”, or are they doomed to spend their time running for their lives? Or, when given the chance, will they abandon their search to save themselves and return home?

Brandon Mull is at his best here. Filled with twists and turns, readers are just as clueless as Jason and Rachel on who to trust and what to do next. The world building is extraordinary, with new creatures at every turn, with my favorites being the displacers, creatures who look human but have the ability to remove and then reattach parts of their body. The trials are equal parts brain and brawn, and I loved how unique this concept was. There’s enough fast paced action to leave any reader breathless, as the body count quickly mounts. There’s just a hint of romance, which begs for elaboration in future books.

Actually, there’s a lot that begs for elaboration in the upcoming sequels. That ending… Oh what can I say about the ending without giving anything away… I can’t. It’s a cliffhanger if I ever saw one, which leaves readers protesting “But…. WHAT!? But what about Rachel? What about Jason? How are they going to…” Nope, can’t spoil it. You’re just going to have to take my word for it and read it. It’s downright unfair, and I can’t imagine how they’re going to get out of the problems they are facing. The sequel <em>Seeds of Rebellion</em> doesn’t come out until spring, so you have a while to wait just like me.