Book Review of Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Posted September 15, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 12 Comments

Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: October 1st, 2012
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia (sort of), it’s in the I don’t even know genre.
Source: NetGalley
Add it to your Goodreads to-read list here.

Blurb: 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.

Review: If you look up at the top, you will see that I really couldn’t decide what genre to put this book in. Of course it’s young adult. But as for the rest…well, there are some dystopian elements, especially in the beginning, but most of all, I think this is a fantasy. It’s not quite high fantasy, but it has some elements of that, too. There’s lots of walking/traveling from place to place. Different villages, a magic system, a mythical antagonist, and some bizarre creatures. There’s even an old woman that lives in a ramshackle cottage in the woods. And you get there by following signs and you board a boat with a boatman reminiscent of Charron and the River Styx. Okay, so not all of what I mentioned are high fantasy elements. I sort of trailed off there. Heh. It’s just a really weird but captivating book. Not everyone is going to love it though.

The beginning is very different from the middle and the end. It’s almost as if you reach a point somewhere in the book and then it shifts and you feel like you are reading something completely different. In that way it is inconsistent, but it works. At least for me it did. I was fascinated by this book and found myself having a very difficult time putting it down. I finished this one more quickly than most books I have read this year.

And yet, I cannot give it five stars. Perhaps it is because I was not in love with the writing. It’s not that it’s bad, it doesn’t put me off or anything, but I did feel it was lackluster and not very special. Add to that the fact that I felt like the world-building was not explained very well. Not in every area, I just felt confused a lot and I spent some time wishing I had more information. I have a feeling that would have created some plot holes and that was why it was left out, but you simply can’t do that. Readers are smart and they’ll notice. What world-building there is was great, but I was left feeling unsatisfied.

And then the end. That ending. *passes out*

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I don’t mind cliffhangers, I really don’t, but I am incredibly unsatisfied with this one more than most. I’m not actually knocking off stars for the cliffhanger, but the feeling of being left unhappy. Most cliffhangers I read leave me with my mouth hanging open, but this one just left me feeling angry and wanting to chuck my book at the wall. And I could not do that because it was on my Kindle. I don’t know if this book is a standalone or a series because Goodreads didn’t say at the time of this review writing, but I really hope it is not a standalone because then that’s just cruel.

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Bittersweet ending, fine, but this goes above and beyond that. You’ll see when you read it. I’m not trying to put anyone off this book, I really did enjoy it, there were just some major problems that left me unable to rate this as highly as I wanted to. And unfortunately most of those problems came towards the end.

The characters are lovely, but not particularly special. I do believe that readers will enjoy them and they are written well, it just again comes down to the writing and the underwhelmed way it made me feel. Upon finishing this book I was angry but in love with the characters, and now here we are a few days later, and I have already forgotten their names except for Aamon. You’ll see.

I really think you should read it though and form your own opinions. It’s a weird book, so I recommend this one for fans of the strange and original. I recommend this for someone looking for a good story and a book to escape into. I do not recommend this one for a reader who likes to ask a lot of questions. You will be hard-pressed trying to find the answers you seek.

To purchase a copy of Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch from Amazon.com, click here: Magisterium. At the time of this writing, there is no Kindle edition available. I do hope that changes. The obligatory disclaimer: I am an AMZ affiliate and if you buy from my links I will earn a commission, so please do!

12 responses to “Book Review of Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

  1. Great review, Kara! I haven’t seen much buzz for this around Goodreads, so a positive/semi-positive review, especially from a trusted friend as you, is always good. If I manage to get a copy, I’ll probably read this, but now I know not to go out of my way to read it. And now you’ve got me incredibly curious as to what the ending is!

    • Thanks, Blythe! It really isn’t getting a lot of buzz but IMO it should be. It’s a very interesting book. Definitely read it, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it. Library, maybe?

      The ending is OMGWTF.

    • I’m okay with cliffhangers but it depends on the cliffhanger really. I don’t regret reading this book, but I’ll admit that it’s not as memorable as I thought it was going to be.

  2. I laughed so many times from this review, I had to read it again to actually grasp what was going on. Thank you. Still my favorite part is “it’s in the I don’t even know genre”. I can’t stop giggling!

    • Really? I’m glad I made you laugh so much, I didn’t even know this review was remotely funny! Haha! It really DOES belong in the IDK genre. It was such a mishmash of things. 🙂

  3. Amy

    This one sounds really interesting to me. I totally love the cover and the premise. After reading your review, I think that maybe I will take this one out from my library so that way if I don’t love it I won’t be pissed that I bought it lol!! Great review babe!!

  4. Awww, I’m so sorry this one took a turn for the worse towards the end. I really DO NOT REMEMBER the ending. I really just didn’t care, so it probably didn’t bother me. I know you were loving the first half, so I’m sad for you that it couldn’t at least be a four star.

    I definitely agree about the writing. It wasn’t awful; it was edited. It just lacked any sort of spark. Very dry and unoriginal.

    • Yes, I’m not a fan of basic writing without any tone or real voice. I knew that was going to keep it from being a 5 star read. It was a 4 star basically until the last 50 pages where everything seemed to go wrong for me. I felt it was kind of all over the place and then that ending just did me in. Not a fan of upsetting endings. To me there is a difference between that and a cliffhanger.

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