Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch Review

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Title: Magisterium
Author: Jeff Hirsch (Twitter)
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish Date: October 1, 2012
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 310
Source: Publisher

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.
Glenn and her father live in Colloquium, the side of the planet that survived an apocalyptic event that split the world in two, killing half the planet. It isn't a perfect world, but it's endured, much like Glenn and her father have in their own small way. Ever since her mother left, Glenn's father changed, and she's desperate to escape to a space station far away from the memories she lives with every day. But things aren't bound to be that simple for Glenn. The government is after her father, and she and her friend Kevin have no choice but to escape through the rift to the destroyed other half of the planet...but there might just be more magic and mystery to the other side than she could have ever imagined.

Imagine a world that's broken - literally broken - and that is what the world of Magisterium presents for it's readers. In this brainchild of veteran author, Jeff Hirsch, we're given a story full of wonder, mystery and excitement, plus just a touch of dystopia in the aftermath of an unbelievably cataclysmic event. With a careful hand, readers are transported to a world magic comes standard and the grass really isn't all that green on the other side. Magisterium gives us just a sense of the age-old proverb to be careful what we wish for, then thrusts us into a whirlwind adventure that's unpredictable and enticing. 

There's so much about this book that I really enjoyed, but unfortunately, it's also one of those books where quite a bit of it left me feeling a bit blah. The premise of Magisterium is incredible. We're promised dual dimensions, which are extreme opposites of one another, which gives us the opportunity to explore two worlds instead of just one. In Colloquium, there's a sense of regime, and it's a bleak atmosphere that had me longing to see what was in Magisterium. I wasn't disappointed. This other dimension offers magic, battles, adventure and a fascinating history as to its existence. However, therein lies one of my biggest issues with Magisterium, as well. Much of the story teases us with alluring magical details, but then we're given a simple explanation as to events, and we have no real backstory to certain elements of the setup, as well. Events just happen. Things magically appear. We watch characters transform in this world with little or no coaxing at all, which left me, personally, in the lurch. Now, I will say that the author created a solid and empathetic character in Glenn, and I definitely felt as though I got to know her through the story, which was a redeeming factor for me. In the same breath though, Kevin felt very flat to me, and a lot of his actions and motivations felt extremely forced. Most of all though, I think that Magisterium had all the elements of a great story, but it rushed through parts that should have been more drawn out and played up, then it drew out the details I could have easily overlooked. 

Overall, I think that Magisterium is a pretty decent read despite its flaws, but it lacked some of the refined  plot elements that I seek in books these days. I give it a 3 out of 5, but I'm sure it will work better for others than it did for me. I recommend this book to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy fantasy

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. This was a pretty good book, and I did really like the dimensions. Glad you enjoyed this for the most part. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    1. Thanks, Jenea! I think that some of the elements needed a bit more depth and explanation, but I definitely think the concept has a TON of promise!

  2. Sorry this didn't work out for you. I'm fantasy fan, but I had the same issues as you did. I agree that some parts felt rushed, and while I found Glenn to be a likable character Kevin just fell flat for me.

    Thanks for the honest review, Melissa!

    1. I'm a huge fantasy fan - I just want it to be done well, you know? I think fantasy deserves time, and things really need to be elaborated upon. Thank you so much!

  3. I really want to read this one still. I am just seriously in love with the cover...

    1. The cover is fantastic - I just wanted a bit *more* from the actual story.

  4. I've been so torn about whether to read this one because there have been so many mixed reviews, but I think I'll be skipping this. It seems too obscure for me to really get into. Lovely review, Melissa! :)

    1. I think it's worth a read, eventually, Keertana. It's not a bad book, I think it just really needed a good bit more. Thank you :)

  5. I don't know if I want to read this one. I had the opportunity to do so last year, but passed. This year, though, I heard the author read an excerpt and it sounded pretty great! Therefore, I'm now confused as to whether or not I'll read it. Only time will tell...


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