FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Spirit Animals #1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull
ABOUT THE BOOK
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 THE AUTHOR
Brandon Mull resides in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife and three children. He spent two years living in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile where he learned Spanish and juggling. He once won a pudding eating contest in the park behind his grandma’s house, earning a gold medal. Brandon is the author of the New York Times bestselling Fablehaven series and The Candy Shop War.
I really enjoyed Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1). It moves at a quick pace, getting to the meat of the story within a few pages with a surprising depth considering the shortness of the book. The four main characters are fun to get to know, each one with their strengths and weaknesses.
Conor, who comes from a sheep-herding family is shocked when he bonds with a wolf. He is even further stunned when he discovers that it isn't just a wolf, but Briggan, a Great Beast, who'd fallen in battle long before. But when he finds out that he is needed to help defend his country his lack of confidence doesn't stop him from doing the right thing.
Akebe, who bonds instantly with Uzara, the leopard, finds herself far from home, training for what she doesn't know. Her hunting instincts allow her to quickly develop a close relationship with the leopard, which is good because she finds herself fighting for her life on a regular basis. But her loyalties are immediately put to the test when she comes face to face with the other three and their spirit animals, and discovers they are fighting for the side she thought was the enemy.
Meilin has trained as a fighter most of her life and is stunned when her city is invaded and she is forced to flee with Jhi, her giant panda spirit animal. But her fighting spirit seems to be at odds with the gentle creature she is bonded with and it causes her great frustration. More concerned with getting the animal to obey her commands, will she be able to let go of her demands long enough to establish a bond?
Rollan ends up in jail while trying to obtain medicine for another sick orphan. When Essix, the falcon, shows up, he suddenly finds himself of great interest to a variety of people, both good and bad. Suspicious of their motives, Rollan struggles to decide what he should do or if he should get involved at all. In addition, his falcon doesn't seem to be connecting to him at all.
A fun series for younger middle grade fantasy readers, Mull has once again crafted a fascinating world based on Earth. A series I can comfortably recommend to both general and reluctant readers.