Don't lean too far into a cage enclosure at a zoo or you might end up like thirteen-year-old Jason who fell into the hippo tank and got sucked down its mouth into an alternate world called, Lyrian. Jason finds himself in a series of adventures beginning with attempting to rescue a group of musicians plunging over some falls on a raft. He later ends up at a remote library where he reads a forbidden book that is made of human skin and forces him on a quest to find the syllables of a word that will dethrone the ruling tyrant, Maldor.
All Jason wants is to go back home to Colorado and he thinks the quest will help him. The librarian sends him to the Blind King who knows a place Jason can start looking for the rest of the syllables. It is with the Blind King that Jason meets Rachel, a Beyonder like himself, and together they attempt the dangerous quest in the hope that they can somehow go home again.
The book is entertaining and there is plenty of action and violence but the character development is not particularly well-rounded. Jason seems too old for his age and he doesn't change much from the beginning to the end. He does contemplate what makes a hero and that he can be too stubborn which leads Rachel to not trust him at first. Some readers might get annoyed that Rachel gets left out of most of the action because she's a girl. There's no witty rapport between them. Ironically, the only part I really laughed the most was when Jason was being tortured and under the influence of a drug that made his responses to the person torturing him funny.
The violence begins on page one with a prince being tortured. Next a group of musicians are willingly navigating a raft over some falls. I found the violence more disturbing in the beginning and not as much as later on as characters emerge who can remove their limbs and put them back on or a magician who can take away sight and give it back. Other violent acts are: a character is torn to bits by dogs, a dog is split in two by a giant crab's claw, men and women eat so much food they die, men are blown apart (although one has a seed in his head and can be replanted and reborn), and the main character is tortured although I thought the author made it funny. I felt more removed from the violence when it involved characters that weren't human. The main characters are very brave and earnest as they work together to try to save a world from evil. This is the first book in a series.
Reading Level 7.4
:-) :-) :-) 3 Smileys