I read, I write, and I majored in German and Muggle Studies. my favorite genres are historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. Lookout for reviews of the YA and MG persuasions!
This is the first book that I have read by Jeff Hirsch, and I admit that while snatching books from my local library's shelves, the cover drew me in. It's bold, it's eye-catching, and the tagline on the back cover-- “EVERYTHING YOU'VE BEEN TOLD IS A LIE” sealed the deal.
The book is a curious hybrid with a science-fiction and fantasy background; the information on the inside flap includes a “science fiction” tag, but seeing as how magic plays an arguably greater role, I'm going to call this one “fanta-sci.” The concept of blending the two played out very nicely in the beginning, but neither the tech-decked Colloquium nor the magical Magisterium receive the sort of world-building treatment I hoped for.
I suppose it could be classified as a “dystopian” novel, although I'm not sure if there was enough detail about the “Colloquium” to satisfyingly call it a failed utopia. Perhaps the lies the Colloquium tells its people make it so, but I'm not entirely convinced.
The book follows young Glenn Morgan's sudden entrance into a world called the “Magisterium” that she didn't think existed. Accompanied by her eccentric friend and possible love interest, Kevin Kapoor, she struggles to come to grips with this other reality and what it means for her personally, all the while trying to evade those who are after the bracelet that her brilliant, but troubled inventor father left her before his sudden arrest.
Glenn, the book's primary protagonist, has a concrete sense of self, and a young reader can relate to her initial desire to escape her mundane, teenage life. She has a goal, and she's going to see it through. Secondary protagonist Kevin Kapoor offers both comic relief and charming unpredictability. It's the book's antagonists that fall short.
The antagonists are, I think, part of the greater problem that kept me from wholeheartedly enjoying this book.
Given two entirely different worlds, one reliant on extraordinary technology, and the other upon magic, there must be quite a lot of history between them. In theory, the culture in the Magisterium must be much different from that in the Colloquium, but with the book's rapid pace, nothing slows down long enough to get an explanation.
Designations of science-fiction and fantasy both imply that there will be an exploration of the world presented to the reader. Is the Magisterium merely filled with farmers? The further I read into the book the more questions went unresolved. Glenn and Kevin stumbled into an amazing world that turned out to be far too flat, given the premise that the book opened with. For the sake of a fast pace, the wonder that should have accompanied the new environment did not leave an impression.
This book would make a good introduction for readers wary of dense fantasy and science fiction novels, or for readers anxious to get their hands on a book with dystopian elements. A sequel might clear up the foggy foundations of both the Colloquium and Magisterium, but it would have been nice to have a much firmer, detailed base on which to enjoy the story.