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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"The Glass Sentence: Mapmakers Trilogy #1" by S.E. Grove (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Overview: She has only seen the world through maps. She had no idea they were so dangerous.

Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods.  Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.

Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack’s life, they are in danger of losing their own.

The Glass Sentence plunges readers into a time and place they will not want to leave, and introduces them to a heroine and hero they will take to their hearts. It is a remarkable debut.

FORMAT: The Glass Sentence is the first novel in The Mapmakers Trilogy. It stands at 493 pages and was published on June 12, 2014 by Viking Juvenile.

ANALYSIS: The Glass Sentence is a YA fantasy that has a little bit of everything thrown into it. There is some mention about magic, a huge emphasis on science and scientific facts, a quest, and some alternative history thrown into it.

The novel, which is the first book of a series, is very reminiscent of His Dark Materials. That isn't to say it's a carbon copy of it or the ideas are the same, but there is a distinct similarity in writing style, plotline, and even characters. Fans of this series will be sure to enjoy The Glass Sentence, as well as any following novels.

The entire novel revolves around the concept that at one point the world was as we knew it and then suddenly this huge disruption happened. Think, apocalypse, but not really. This disruption caused the entire globe to slip into different time periods. Some areas went back in time, some went forward, but they all co-exist at once.

The Glass Sentence by no means would be classified as a 'fast read'. It starts off with a very slow, almost sluggish start. This is because there is a lot of background information, scientific facts, and world building that needs to happen in order for readers to understand the series. Unfortunately, this takes time and results in a sluggish, slow-moving feel.

If you can make it through the sluggish/slowness in the beginning of the novel, there is a decent, well-rounded novel. Sadly, most readers will probably give up on the novel, which leads people to miss out on a unique story.

I would estimate that a good one-third, to one-half of the novel is sluggish world building. There is a lot of time spent explaining the rather complex 'new world' that people are living in. There is time spent explaining how maps are made, the different types of maps, and even the extensive history/culture/customs of the different eras.

In addition to the sluggish nature of the book, I (personally) found it difficult to suspend disbelief on the whole concept of different eras/time periods/time co-existing in a world. I am not totally sure if it was too scientific for my brain to process or if I just couldn't let go of the world that I know, but I just couldn't envision it happening.

While I was able to get through The Glass Sentence and found the story/plot alright, I believe my inability to suspend disbelief for the story hindered/hurt my experience with this book. I can see how much potential this series has and I realize that for the right reader this is 'the book' to read, I just found it difficult. It wasn't until the very end that things started to 'click' for me and I really started enjoying the book.

Would I recommend The Glass Sentence to everyone? Probably not. There is a certain audience that will really enjoy/love this book. Fans of His Dark Materials, those looking for a unique novel that is not the normal 'YA' read, and those that like complex world building. If you are going to read this book, make sure to give it time as it really does take a while to build up – and of course – be prepared for a huge cliffhanger!


Shreya at Jumbodium said...

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Anonymous said...

I would have trouble suspending disbelief, too. Quite apart from the scientific aspects, I can't believe that such a world would be stable for five minutes. What's going to happen? Why, whoever has the most modern weapons will annihilate everyone else.

Cindy said...

I had similar thoughts too. I had difficulty with the whole 'trading' issue. How were the worlds able to trade goods and services, yet be so many eras apart?

What happens when you walk across an era boundry? Do you forget what you learned in the other one because why else wouldn't they share information?

No matter how it worked, I couldn't get it to come out to a way that my brain could process.

I understand what they were trying to achieve with this type of storyline, but I just didn't get it to work.

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