ARC Review: “Magisterium” by Jeff Hirsch

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Goodreads | Amazon

On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn’s only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn’t for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn’s mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father’s work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run—with only one place to go.
With MAGISTERIUM, Jeff Hirsch brings us the story of a complex, captivating world that will leave readers breathless until the very last page.

3 1/2 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Scholastics Press for this eARC! You can pick up a copy of your own on October 1, 2012.

When I began reading the book, something stopped me right before the book even started. In the dedication, Hirsch had written “For Gretchen, my greatest Affinity.” I actually shouted, “WHAT?” because for one crazy second I thought he was talking to me because freaking nobody has my name. (Except for a few people. But they are very few.)

Perhaps that set me up with expectations that could never be met.

To be fair, Hirsch set himself up with a FANTASTIC premise. I actually never realized this was a dystopian until the first explanation of the Rift in the first few pages (which comes in Glenn giving Kevin a history lesson he doesn’t need. Sigh.).  I was thinking we were setting up for a more fantasy/straight scifi adventure, which in a way it was. No, not because technically dystopian is a subcategory of scifi, but rather because the mix of the two genres was ridiculously neat. While in the Colloquium (the technological paradise side of the Rift), the story is straight scifi. While in the Magisterium for the first part, it’s almost straight fantasy. Towards the end they mix gradually, and it was SO COOL. Talk about the best of both worlds.

However, Hirsch’s world building didn’t sell me on the concept as solidly as I would have liked. There weren’t too many giant gaps, but the little things irk me. In places it showed that Hirsch did have some world building down, so I tend to blame this one on bad pacing. Throughout the entire book, huge, plot altering events were blown by in the blink of an eye with the minimal of explanation. Half of them I was struggling to understand pages later, when they were already seriously affecting the plot, and they were never elaborated on afterwards. Unfortunately, I can’t give you an example of where I felt this the worst because it might spoil some things, but let me just say the character of Kevin turns bipolar for reasons I don’t understand to this moment.

The characterization of Glenn also turned me off the book. I never connected with her, mostly because her first instinct was to be passive. I am not a fan of passive main characters, especially when there are TWO other characters trying to kick Glenn in the rear for the whole book and she’s like “No I don’t want to hurt anyone anymore so I’ll try TALKING to the bad guy” and worse. When the dude is killing people and toting around trebuchets, I think we’re a little past talking.

The plotting and characterization throughout the novel were big problems for me, but I found them to be my only problems. It was just unfortunate that they didn’t extend just to one part of the novel or one character. Still, I found myself able to read around these problems if only to read more about the world. Having this much magic within my scifi made me a very happy person, and the description of the magical beings and powers were spectacular. I found the actual plot to be fairly predictable–right up until the end, that is. That’s when Glenn FINALLY made some proactive choices and shocked the socks off me.

All in all, I would recommend this book if you were looking for a very fast read that mixes up just the right amounts of scifi and fantasy. I did enjoy it, but the stickler editor in me found a few too many large technical problems to be totally satisfied. That said, I will be looking forward to getting my hands on the second book in this series, which I will add to me “to-be-read” list as soon as Goodreads get any information about it. I think this story has potential, and Hirsch can only improve from here.

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Top Ten Books I Have But Need To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

So, this week’s TTT is a freebie, so I chose a topic very close to my heart. We bloggers are used to our TBR lists being out of control – that’s normal! However, it is our CHOICE to make the list of books we need to review get out of control as well, and I have so definitely done so. So, I figure, I can tell you guys all about the books I need to get around to and maybe y’all can provide some encouragement or sympathy. Or, you know, laugh at me. (All title links go to Goodreads.)

1. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

I don’t want to tell you how long I’ve had this one from NetGalley. However, since it isn’t published til November, I keep pushing it back in favor of reviews I have to get done first! Still, can’t wait to read this one. Sounds so good!

2. Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

This one isn’t so bad, because I did just get this from Edelweiss like yesterday. But still, I never should have requested it in the first place. Yet, I did. And I’m not sad about it at all. I’m way too intrigued by this.

3. Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Scholastics bombarded me on NetGalley the other day with THREE different review acceptances, when I’d requested the books all at different times. Oh how I’m not a fan of that. I already finished one of them, but I’ve still got this one and…

4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE THIS. Just … eeeek! I’m dying to get started on this one, since it’s next in my que to go! 😀

5. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente

This one begins the books that isn’t from NetGalley or Edelweiss, but it’s still really important I read this one soon. Why? I’M GOING TO MEET THE AUTHOR. (Don’t worry, I’ll tell you guys all about it.) Speaking of which…

6. Fudoki by Kij Johnson

This is another author I’m going to be meeting, at the same event as Catherynne Valente. I’m going, by the way, to the Alpha Fantasy, Scifi and Horror Writing Workshop for Young Writers. It takes place in Pennsylvania and is SPECTACULARLY AWESOME. I will also be meeting John Joseph Adams and Tamora Pierce there.

7. Tithe by Holly Black

I got this in a book swap a few weeks ago for good reason: Holly Black, Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan are doing a book signing in my area! I’ve read her stuff before, but I don’t own any of it, so I had to make sure I get on that. Oh, and actually reading this would be nice. Not to mention…

8. Valiant by Holly Black

This one as well! Thank you Vivien (@deadtossedwaves on Twitter) for making this possible! 😀

9. Morning Star by Desiree Finkbeiner

You guys may or may not remember that I interviewed Desiree a few months ago! Well, she also gave me an ecopy of her book the read and review at my leisure, and I’d like to make my leisure NOW because I’ve been dying to read this since she sent me the blurb! Still just haven’t gotten there, though.

10. Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

Got this for my birthday because I’ve been dying to read it for FOREVER. I’m still taking my sweet time getting around to it, though! I wish I read so much faster.

BONUS ROUND! (Otherwise known as where I show you how insane I really am.)

Rounding out my have-but-need-to-read-list on Goodreads are:

Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson ~ Chime by Franny Billingsley ~ Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce ~ Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray ~ The Iron King by Julie Kagawa ~ Crescent Dawn by Clive Cussler ~ Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick ~ Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce

Stacking the Shelves #2

Welcome to my second Stacking the Shelves, as hosted by Tynga’s Reviews! This week is another crazy book haul, mostly thanks to NetGalley. Don’t miss the video, where I talk about all these fantastic books and also about a summer reading event I’m participating in during August that you don’t want to miss! (Sorry about the buzzing noise. No idea where that came from, but it won’t go away.)

This week’s books:

Given:

Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson – Goodreads

Won:

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry – Goodreads

NetGalley:

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch – Goodreads

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Goodreads

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan – Goodreads

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron – Goodreads

Blog Tour:

Destiny’s Fire by Trisha Wolfe – Goodreads

(The event that this is part of will be running from August 6th-11th. My post goes up August 10th.)

Author Request:

Flicker by Kaye Thornbrugh – Goodreads