Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch Review {with Audiobook Notes}

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
Published by Scholastic Press
Publish Date: October 1, 2012
310 Pages
Source: Book - Publisher, Audiobook - Library
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


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. (excerpt from Goodreads) 


Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

I remember when this book was released, and the period of time leading up to its release, and thinking that WOW this cover was just awesome and that I NEEDED to read this book. When reviews began to come in and they were a little bit lukewarm, I was saddened and decided to distance myself from the opinions of other people - so onto the shelf this book went! Recently, I decided to pull it down, dust it off, and give it a go. I paired it with the audiobook format and thought YAY, FINALLY!

Sigh.

You guys, I tried with this one. I really did. And I didn't dislike it as much as I really didn't quite get it. I mean, it started out really strong and then it just kind of...lost me. 

Glenn Morgan is the main character (she's a girl) who has an oddly eccentric father and a guy best-friend, Kevin, that likes her more than she likes him. That's the easy part. They live in a community on this side of the Rift because it isn't safe on the other side of the Rift. Glenn does something that causes a stir and suddenly the "government" is onto her and wants to arrest her, so she and her friend make an escape that takes them ACROSS The Rift into that super-scary place...except it isn't at all what they've been told. Glenn and Kevin learn a ton of stuff and go on this quest of sorts and end up finding out that everything that they thought they knew was a lie and that they possess the knowledge and know-how to save the people that they love...if they can best the government that is after them. 

Okay, see, that's a little bit of a breakdown. Of course, there are some really great details thrown into there. The beginning of the book is pretty awesome and fast-paced and I was super-curious about what would happen, what's going on, WHAT ON EARTH, etc etc. Once Glenn and Kevin made it into the "other world" across the Rift, things were pretty interesting and intense and a little crazy. And then I began to get lost and just couldn't find my way back. 

I found the beginning of the book - that world - much easier to visualize than the more magical and fantasy-like world across the Rift. I just had a difficult time creating a visual image of it inside of my head. So, yes, I wish that they world-building had been a little more consistent throughout the book, from beginning to end. Also, there was a large cast of characters from both sides, and I had a hard time keeping up with which person was a good guy and which person was a bad guy (outside of the main cast), because they are two groups of people except there is a little bit of crossover. Eventually when Glenn and Kevin began traveling to the different locations in the new land across the Rift (all with interesting names), I just kind of got buried in all of the details, particularly the funky fantasy-like names - I always have a tough time keeping hard-to-pronounce and remember names straight anyway. I finished the book with an understanding of the overall story arc, but I feel a little bit sad that I had such a hard time keeping up with the details as I read (and listened) along. 

Honestly, I feel like with literally both the print and audiobook formats going at the same time, I should have had a much easier time with Magisterium. Ultimately, I think the idea was a good one - and it started out pretty well - but the execution was just a little too bogged down in the detailing as the story progressed. I'm glad that I finally read the book, however, because I have been curious about it for a long time. The ending provided resolution (I was worried while reading that it would be open-ended or a series) and I was pleased with the outcome. 

I think Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch would be best recommended to younger young adult readers and reluctant readers, specifically those that show an interest in science-fiction/fantasy books. I think that younger readers often tend to do much better with the detailing in books like this and where I found myself confused or bogged down, these readers often just plow through and keep going. I feel like a younger YA audience, or perhaps even a middle grade audience, would enjoy this book. 

Audiobook NotesThe audiobook format of Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch is published by Scholastic Audio and is 9 hours, 14 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Julia Whelan who IS known to me and made this book much easier for me to read, as she provided great pronunciation to words that I would have certainly bumbled (names of characters and places). Her tone and excitement was great and this is something that I have come to expect from her work. I would have no problem recommending this audiobook for a first time read or a re-read. 

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Magisterium will appeal to fans of:

Middle Grade/YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi 
Magic
Interesting characters
Romance:  Very lite. Clean. No triangle.

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
is currently available for purchase.

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