Spirit animals : Wild born by Brandon Mull
Scholastic Australia, 2013. ISBN 9781742839974.
Spirit Animals is a new series from Scholastic, building on their previous successful series such as 39 Clues and Infinity Ring, allowing the reader to be just that or to choose to participate in an online adventure and forum with other readers where reading each book adds to the game. As with the other series, a variety of authors will be responsible for each book, bringing differing writing styles whilst continuing to develop the same characters.
Wild Born introduces us to the fantasy world of Erdas, a collection of four main continents and many islands of various sizes as referenced by a map at the beginning of the book. On each of these continents children who turn eleven participate in various coming of age ceremonies overseen by a member of the Greencloaks who provide the Nectar which all children hope will bring forth their spirit animal.
So we are introduced to Conor, a shepherd's son indentured to the Earl of Trunwick to pay off his father's debts who calls forth the wolf Briggan; Abeke a rebellious daughter and hunter who calls Uraza the leopard; Meilin a General's pampered daughter well trained in martial arts who is disappointed when she finds her spirit animal is Jhi the Giant Panda; and last but not least Rollan, orphan and street wise who escapes prison when the falcon Essix appears.
As three of the children come together under the guidance of Tarik and become familiar with their animals which are reincarnations of the fallen from the previous war with the Devourer arch enemy of the Greencloaks and Abeke joins Zerif for her training, war is raging on Zhong and spreading.
Soon it becomes obvious the fate of Erdas is in the hands of these children and their special animals and the real adventure begins as they search Arax the Ram in the mountains, battle Zerif resulting in Abeke finally joining the Green cloaks and defining the sides of good and evil.
As an introduction there is enough information to feel satisfied with the characters and premise of the series but its success will depend on the continuing development of the characters and their relationships with each other and their animals as well as their future adventures. I already have a number of boys clamouring for the next book which is a positive sign for the series.