Batty About Books - A World Without Heroes Pt 2

Batty About Beyonders
Beyonders Part Two (pages 91-190) 

Before I get started on the dialogue Kathy and I shared about this book, I’d like to state that neither of us are really enjoying this book enough to devote another three weeks to discussing it. My post below includes some of my thoughts that are complaints about the book, and a few things I found that I could say I liked. With that said, my own fourth grade son loved this book, so I know there is definitely an audience for it. Read along with our commentary if you’re curious about what we didn't like, but know that WE know that not every book appeals to every reader. We are going to give this book a burial at sea and move on to another next week.

As always, my original thoughts are here (in purple) with Kathy’s responses in blue. Her thoughts, with my responses, will be hosted on her blog – The Brain Lair.

Maria: Well, I think the second part of the book was an improvement (though I still have some complaints!)

Kathy: Disagree. Warning: my thoughts are not happy or positive. They are in blue. Skip them if you want to like this book. You Have Been Warned!
First – some complaints.

Maria: I like Rachel, but I feel like she’s not being set up as a real co-hero in the story so far. Galloran “laments” sending Rachel into danger, but seems to have no problem possibly getting Jason killed.  Jason gets a knife and she gets an exploding sphere? Really? Give the girl a knife already, or at least something that would help her more than once.  I was at least happy that she voiced the same complaint, but it still seems silly. Also, she’s a spunky character, but not really shockingly so. Yet Jason keeps commenting on how amazed or surprised he is by what she does. I feel like Jason may be stuck in the 60s somewhere. Get with the program, boys!
Kathy: I feel like it’s all a big setup on Mull’s part. He’s leading the reader with these “they treat girls differently here” comments and asides so that she can turn around and “surprise” us because we “underestimated the power of women”. Cliched.
Maria: Mull continues with the overdone vocabulary and explanations. Thankfully, most of it appears to spew forth from the Blind King, and fits with his character fairly well. Yet it does show up in other sections as well, and it is a bit distracting to me. I was also a little annoyed with the explanation of heroism. Would the target audience for this book (upper middle grades) really not have a handle on this? Does it need to be spelled out like this, or can’t the reader discover the idea on their own?
Kathy:  I voiced this same objection! I felt as if Mull was following a manual. And not a very good one. I keep getting bogged down in his explanations and his lame attempts to enlighten or humor.

Maria: I was excited to learn more about the musicians from earlier in the book, and how they were trying to summon a hero. Yet they went over the edge when Jason was already there. So was there another hero summoned? Is Rachel really the hero they need?
Kathy: See above explanation on the power of women.  
Maria: Honestly, I'm not even convinced that it will be Rachel.

Maria: There is beginning to be a more entertaining relationship between Jason and Rachel by the end of this part. I love the “punishment” they decide to enforce on one another – the dirty socks. That strikes me as something real kids would do.
Kathy: Funny? Not the word I would use. And though I can see kids trying to force their dirty socks into other kids mouths for fun (I have 8 younger siblings, 5 of them boys), I don’t see them agreeing to that as punishment. Though, this could just be my dislike of this book coloring anything that has happened. 
Maria: Perhaps. I didn't have any sibling bullying as a child (I'm the oldest, but not by a ton, but we didn't really have physical rivalry). I think it would be awful if one child did this to another, but the fact that they chose it as an agreed upon punishment made me chuckle.

Maria: I also like the displacer, Ferrin. That is a pretty intriguing super power, and I hope he sticks around to add a sense of levity to the story.
Kathy: Now Ferrin is someone I can get behind.  Finally something cool and fanciful happening.  He may bring the plot I need to stick around for the rest of the story.
Maria: I’m still not “feeling” this book, though. I can see the kid appeal, and I know that my students will enjoy it. It’s just not doing much for me.
Kathy: I can’t see any kid liking this. I can’t see me booktalking this without my complete lack of interest coming through. I have booktalked books I didn’t personally like before but this goes “beyond” because I can’t think of even one student who I would foist this upon.

So there you have it – some books need to be abandoned. Come back next week to find out what we select as our next Cybil nominee to share.


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