Postcard For Reader + Scholastic

Julia's Corner: Magisterium

Author: Jeff Hirsch
Series: ---
Publisher: Scholastic
How Received: BookExpo America

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.

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch is a dystopian novel set after a huge explosion causes a rift in our world. The people who live outside this rift are residents of the Colloquium, a technologically advanced country which seems to cover the entire planet, save for the rift. The main character, Glenn Morgan dreams of traveling to a distant planet for scientific research. After all, she doesn’t have much keeping her at home. Her mother disappeared ten years ago when Glenn was six and since then, her father has descended into a state of obsession with his “project.” She only has one friend, a boy named Kevin. After a turn of events revolving around “the project,” Glenn and Kevin end up running from the Colloquium authorities over the boundaries of the rift. Once they get there, they discover that what they’d been told about this land, supposedly devoid of human civilization, couldn’t be more wrong. The land beyond the border is called Magisterium, and here technology does not function and magic or “affinity” is what rules the day.

As you guys as readers of WORD probably know by now, I’m kind of suspicious of the dystopian genre. I think early exposure to political commentary and metaphors that I just didn’t get at the time ruined it for me when I was younger. I’m starting to get out of that, but I still approach dystopians with a slightly skeptical viewpoint. With that in mind, I can honestly say that Magisterium was a good book. I think it had the key to what I see as a good dystopian: a realistic portrayal of human behavior in an environment that, while changed, is still recognizable as what used to be our world.

The narration is very good. I actually thought throughout the whole book that the author was a woman because he handles the teenage girl’s perspective so well (as a teenage girl I feel like I’m an authority on this). Although romance is not an overwhelming part of the story, there is an element of it and I think it was handled really appropriately, or at least believably. The last book I read (Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes) handled teen romance terribly, so this was refreshing.

There is an element of magic in this story as I mentioned before, and the way it is handled is ok. What’s nice about it is that it’s original. I like that it’s called “affinity” and I’ve never read about another form of magic that sounded like the one in this novel. It could maybe stand some limitation, if anything, because I think that it trends towards the “too much to really get away without being explained more” category. That might be ok for some people, but I personally like for things to have a bit more background.

The story line itself is pretty good. Having well written characters is extremely helpful here, but the plot reads well and is for the most part “believable” (quotation marks because there is like magic and stuff going on). Like I said before about the magic, I feel like there are some parts that could be more explained, but it’s not so bad that it takes away from understanding the story or the flow of events. Things kind of come full circle, which is nice. I’m not sure if any kind of sequel is planned for Magisterium, but if there is, I’ll be eager to get a hold of it.

You might like it...: I would recommend Magisterium to fans of other dystopians like The Hunger Games as well as fans of fantasy due to the element of magic. It is a YA novel, rather than my usual middle grade, so teen readers would probably like this story the most.

Julia is Nicole's rooommate and middle grade reviewer for WORD. She likes costuming. Check out her Tumblr at Adventures in Nerdland. You can find the rest of her posts on WORD by clicking here.

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Julia's Corner: Magisterium + Scholastic