Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts – a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children – and the world – have been changed for ever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers …and on you.
About a month ago I found out that Scholastic was coming out with a new multi-author series and that two of my favourite authors were writing the first two books. So I kind of decided that I needed these books ASAP without even really looking at the summary (not that it would have made a difference). I made sure I was first in line at the library and read it as soon as I got it. Was it worth it? Probably not, but I did enjoy the story,
What I loved about Beyonders, and why I was so excited for Wild Born, is that Mull’s stories are filled with sweeping adventures, humour and brilliant plots. Though toned down, all of this is present in the story. However, unlike Beyonders, the kids have an unrealistic amount of power and responsibility. Sure they are the children of prophecy, but there is no way eleven year olds can win in battle against well trained adults, or that they would be sent off on dangerous missions.
Aside from that, the story is extremely enjoyable and surprisingly dark. Because though this book is aimed at a young audience, there are battles and people die. The depiction of death gives the quest a sense of urgency and danger and shows the necessity of winning. Up until then it is all fun and dreamlike; waking up one day to find that you have a spirit animal and not just any spirit animal, but those of legend. After the battle, which is the climax of the story, the mood changes and becomes much more serious.
The mythology and history is well done and quite thorough. Erdas is similar to our world, but not quite. The continents and cultures are similar but apart from that, Erdas is an imaginative fantasy land. There is good and evil and it is not quite so clear which is which. Some people kill and torture to achieve their goals and others do not but that does not make their goals more noble.
The characters were fun and I can’t wait to see them grow over the course of the series. And by characters I mean both the spirit animals and their owners. I loved Rollan’s humour, Meilin’s strength, Conor’s sensitivity and Abeke’s bravery.
The story improved as it progressed and I was almost tempted to give Wild Born and extra half star. The beginning is a tad slow and repetitive but slowly opens up to become action packed and clever. I loved the way the book ended and can’t wait to read Maggie Steifvater’s take on the story!