|Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Buy It: 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.
I have a lot of feelings about this book and not all of them are good. That makes it sound as if the book isn’t good, which isn’t true, but I don’t know how else to put it. There were just certain things in Magisterium that irked me to no end. Aside from those things, however, Jeff Hirsch wrote a wonderful universe that blended dystopian and fantasy wonderfully and had a strong heroine. With so many similar books being released these days, it’s difficult not to compare them and this one is no different. It had elements that reminded me both of The Hunger Games and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone but the it obviously had a flair of its own.
When we first meet Glenn, she’s just a teenager going to school trying to get into the space program and away from the stark reality that is her home life. Her mother left when she was young and her father has been a shell of a man ever since. She finds solace in her cat, Hopkins, and her hopes to help settle star 813 through the space program. She has a kind-of friend in Kevin Kapoor but we find out that he recently kissed her and she’s not really on board with that idea and is trying to avoid him at all costs. She doesn’t have a lot of friends and all she wants to do is get to 813 with Hopkins. Literally, that’s all she talks about for the first few chapters.
We learn that over a hundred years ago there was a giant something and now there is a Rift and Glenn’s town is right on the border, her house in particular. The government says that there’s nothing on the other side of the Rift, but there have always been rumors that there’s something else there – an entirely different world. Glenn ignores it all, however, because all she cares about is 813. Until her dad makes something that Glenn doesn’t understand and the government desperately wants. Before she knows it, Glenn is on the other side of the Rift with Kevin fighting for their lives and everything is completely different.
Where her side, Colloquium, has always had science and technology, the other side, Magisterium, has had Affinity – or magic. It’s a land of creatures unlike anything she’s ever seen and Glenn cannot wrap her mind around the fact that something like the Magisterium can exist. They make a friend immediately in Aamon and he becomes their guide throughout the Magisterium. He’s probably my favorite character in the whole book and I was disappointed that Hirsch didn’t use and develop him more. That’s basically my biggest issue with the book is the development of the characters and relationships. Apparently there’s a love story between Glenn and Kevin but I never felt it. If anything, I thought there was something between Glenn and Aamon but that was never explored. There was also an enemy in the Magisterium, Abbe Daniel, who kind of comes out of nowhere. There are a bunch of enemies, actually, and I kept them all straight but this one really seemed to just appear for plot purposes – no mention prior to their appearance and such. It bothered me from the get-go.
I won’t give away too much more plot-wise because Hirsch does a great job with the plot and weaving the two worlds together, but again there is a lot of character stuff that I felt was missing. Had it been more fleshed out, the book would have been fantastic. And again, the love story just wasn’t there for me at all. Was it because a man wrote it? I have no idea but I seriously wasn’t feeling it. Then again, the book was left open-ended so I know there is going to be another one (even though this isn’t being marketed as a series) so maybe that love story will change. It’s not a series I will personally continue to read, but it might be up your alley so try it out if anything I’ve said sounds interesting! Like I said before, the universe is truly spectacular.