Wild Born: First Impressions

I’m no stranger to recapping children’s fantasy book series. Hell, I spent two or so years recapping Avalon: Web of Magic. However, I’m a big fan of Avalon; I considered the recap project a labor of love. This is the first time I’m recapping something I have mixed-to-negative feelings about.

Spirit Animals is a multi-author series: each book is written by a different author. Multiple authors means a faster publication schedule, meaning I’ll hopefully get through these recaps in a year (barring delays due to grad school and boredom). However, this also means the writing quality and characterization will be inconsistent between the books. And I’m probably not going to shut up about it throughout this recap.

Anyway, let’s get down to my actual first impressions on this series:

So I first heard about Spirit Animals through some press release about Avalon and multi-platform publishing. A book about kids bonding with magical animals to save the world sounded pretty cool.

Months later, I downloaded a copy of the first book … and I was rather disappointed. You can search through my old posts for my rants if you wish. I’ll probably be making and expanding on a lot of the same points in my recap.

Wild Born is the first book, and it follows a rather simple formula:

  • Kids from all corners of the world bond with Super Special magical animals.
  • Kids are recruited by an organization to collect McGuffins to save the world.
  • A secondary character who will only be relevant to this particular book is introduced.
  • A party is gathered and ventures forth to collect the first McGuffin.
  • Secondary character gets development (usually).
  • Big fight scene between two rival organizations.
  • Someone gets the McGuffin.

This formula (minus the introduction stuff) is repeated in all subsequent books — which makes things rather predictable and boring for me. So expect me to basically gloss over certain stuff later on.

Wild Born is written by Brandon Mull, who also wrote Fablehaven, which I hear is a popular children’s book series. I’m not a fan of his writing — I tried reading Fablehaven and his writing style irritated me after two chapters. This book hasn’t changed my opinion of him in the slightest.

Wild Born coverOn to the cover! Nothing really impressive here. There’s a party of four kids of various ethnicities, four animals, and a vague mountain background. Kinda meh. Sorry, no foreign / international covers — as far as I know, this book hasn’t been translated or released in other countries.

Here’s what to expect from my recap:

  • Me comparing everything in this fantasy world to their real-life counterparts!
  • Lots of pictures of wildlife!
  • No witty recap titles! (Why? Because the chapters are actually titled in this series.)


Next time: A protagonist deals with his jerk-ass boss. A fateful event occurs.



  1. *slow claps*
    I have mixed feelings, too. I love almost all books (except the REALLY bad ones, like Twilight) but some of this stuff just irritated me. Like wow. Meilin. DID THEY SERIOUSLY HAVE TO BASE HER OFF CHINA?!
    I have nothing against China, but wow. Why not Korean or Japanese? And her portrayal pisses me off. Like, wow. As an Asian, I just feel like punching her. Anyway, though, my personal feelings and opinions aside, I’m going to have to agree with everything you said.

    1. The whole “each continent is populated by a single culture” thing does kinda bug me (though it didn’t seem to the first time I read it). Not!China annoyed me because it was too close to the real thing.

      1. It’s like they took the world and just slapped different names, rearranged a few countries, and basically medieval-ized it. I’m just kinda sick and tired of the Asian girl always being ‘cold’ and ‘aloof’ and ‘kick-arse.’ If I ever get a book published, I am going to make the Asian girl be dorky and the underdog, but obviously, improve.

  2. I enjoyed the first Fablehaven, but the second book and onward they started introducing hordes of new characters, settings, politics and whatnot that weren’t all that interesting when I just want to read about magical/creepy creatures.

    I see from the cover the kids all have appropriate fantasy outfits with capes! Is this series set on a fantasy earth or our earth? Bringing your panda buddy around with you would be somewhat challenging our earth. I also note that the panda is the oddball, the other 3 animals being the Most Common Bonded Critters. Points if this means the author knows that pandas can be pretty scary if they get mad at you.

    1. The capes are actually Kinda Important — it’s proof that they’re members of a global organization of humans bonded with magical animals.

      The series is set on a fantasy world that’s very similar to our world around the mid-1800s. The only differences are that everyone speaks English, humans can bond with magical animals, and magic exists.

      The book kinda addresses how the party manages to bring a BATTLE PANDA around the world: all bonded animals have a “dormant” tattoo form. Also, BATTLE PANDA never actually fights: she just calms enemies into submission.

  3. Of all the fantastic-sounding books offered on the poll, this one—the least interesting-sounding—won. Well, hopefully this can provide some amusing snark.

    I need to go back to commenting on the All’s Fairy in Love and War read-through.

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