Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review: Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Title: Magisterium
Jeff Hirsch
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: October 1, 2012

Cover Impressions: The cover is kind of cool and I like the image of the cloak made up of birds, however, it didn't really entice me.  There is something about the face that doesn't quite match up with the creepy feel that I believe they were going for.

The Gist:
The world has undergone a Rift.  One side is safe, the other is a wasteland.  At least that is what everyone is told. 

To be honest.  This book annoyed and angered me.  This usually happens when I can see vast potential that is smothered by poor plot pacing and lack-luster character development.  In Magisterium, we are introduced to Glenn Morgan, who dreams only of leaving this world for a distant planet.  Glenn bored me from the first moment.  She is controlling of her world and her emotions in a way that prevented me from forming any type of connection to her (even pity).  I simply could not understand the choices that she made, from turning her father in to the authorities to blindly stumbling through a world that she knew nothing about (and wanted to know nothing about).  Glenn came across and naive and downright stupid.  Case in point: her father is arrested, her friend is shot and she is on the run from a government that has lied to everyone under its control - and yet, she still wants to return and pretend that nothing every happened.  She is not the least bit compassionate or curious and often made me scream in frustration

Glenn's friend, Kevin, seems nice enough and had the potential to be someone I could root for, however, about halfway through the book he undergoes a mysterious personality change and suddenly he is just as much of a jerk as Glenn is.  The reason? Magic.  The reason is always magic.  Magic that is not expanded upon or explained and is used as a crutch to explain every moment of weird shit.  We are simply supposed to swallow this ready made excuse like a bitter pill and move on.  We are also expected to believe that, despite the lack of barrier or patrols on the border between the Colloquium (hated this word btw) and the supposed wasteland, no one ever goes there?  Seriously? No teenage dares, no conspiracy obsessed nuts, no wandering children ever pass through the apparently thin stretch of forest?  OH wait, we do get to meet one family, but they kill themselves before we get a chance to actually learn anything.

On that note, I must mention the brutality.  But not brutality in order to examine a massive flaw in a government system or with human nature in general, no, this was simply bloodshed for the sake of bloodshed.  I don't like this approach in adult novels and I despise it in YA books.  It seems authors like this seem to forget that this is not HBO and not every death has to be a graphic mess.  

By the time I hit the last 100 pages, I was completely over this book, it's characters and it's world building.  The premise was interesting, it had great potential, but somewhere along the line it got bogged down in weird shit and forgot to tell a story.  I am not sure if this is part of a series, but I will not be sticking around to find out. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up
Gender:  Both
Sex:  Kissing
Violence:  LOTS: execution, gunplay, knifeplay, suicide
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None


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