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Seeds of Rebellion: The Problem with Sequels
on July 15, 2012
Remember the first time you saw "Jurassic Park?" Remember the scene when Ellie and Alan are first on the island, riding in the jeep and Ellie is preoccupied with the leaf of some giant plant, trying to figure out how it could possibly exist? The jeep slows to a stop and Alan stands slowly, his hands trembling as he pulls off his sunglasses. He reaches for Ellie's head and turns her so she can see what he is seeing. It is their first glimpse and our first glimpse of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park.
At the time, the special effects were so convincing, it felt like we were there with Ellie and Alan that we too were experiencing that joy at seeing something no one had seen in millions of years.
It is the beauty of discovering a new world and it is why sequels to such movies or books often pale in comparison. The new has worn off.
I felt that way reading Brandon Mull's "Seeds of Rebellion," the second in his Beyonders series. I had first discovered Mull in reading his Fablehaven series, a series I feel he ended too soon and so when he started a new series with "A World without Heroes," I was all on board. In general I have not enjoyed the Beyonders series as much as I did Fablehaven. I still highly recommend each book in the Fablehaven series.
The Beyonders series begins with "A World without Heroes" and without spoiling too much, follows two Beyonders--kids from our world--as they travel to a new and mystical land. The plot revolves around finding different syllables to a word that will destroy an evil wizard. Again, hopefully without too much spoilage, said word plays a part in the sequel too.
Brandon Mull excels at world building, perhaps not with the finesse or sheer joy that J.K. Rowling brings to her novels, but stunning in its own ways. Mull creates creatures like Lurkers, murderous shades and Displacers, who can remove body parts at will. His world includes half giants and in "Seeds of Rebellion," even zombies.
In the first book, Jason was the primary focus and in "Seeds of Rebellion," Mull seems to want to focus more on Rachel who is discovering new found powers. But the primary flaw of this novel is the overabundance of characters. I had a hard time keeping up with them or even remembering the ones from the last book. When certain characters died, I had a hard time caring because Mull had not spent sufficient time making me care about them. I wasn't invested in their lives.
The other problem with "Seeds of Rebellion" is that is seems like too much of a transitional novel, a book meant only to get characters to certain points so something big could happen in a later book. There was some action, but mostly characters spend far too much time talking, and, as I said before, really fascinating characters like Aram are built up in the beginning only to disappear in the crowd as Mull adds more and more new people.
Still, it's a good enough series to stick with and I do want to know what happens next.