Monday, November 24, 2014

Jenn's Review: The Iron Trial

Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Series: Magisterium #1
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 299
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
Bottom Line: A school for magicians or a school for magical warriors?
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Just get it at the library
Blurb: Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

Review:  Lots of people reviewing this are comparing it to Harry Potter, but a more accurate comparison might be The Magicians by Lev Grossman in that it is darker and more despairing. Unfortunately, that's not a favorable comparison for me.

One of the many things I find enchanting about Cassandra Clare's work is her ability to weave a plot.  This, however, felt more like a story outline that the authors did their best to go back and obscure with layers of extranea.  Unfortunately, I knew where we were headed from the outset of the plot exposition.  That can be okay if you love the characters and enjoy the journey, but I couldn't seem to invest in any of it.  The big reveal was supposed to be shocking, but it wasn't in the least for me.

Another thing I love about Ms. Clare's novels is the her depth of characters.  None of that was evident here. It wasn't that I didn't like the characters, just that I never connected to any of them. While the potential was there for all of the characters we never really get to know them, making them all feel archetypal.  This made it hard for me to invest in any of the characters.  Are we supposed to like Cal?  Probably as it's his story, but I think not being able to invest in him was the main reason this story didn't work as well for me. The authors actually start the novel by laying the groundwork for distrusting Cal and continue to chip away at him.   Every time I felt close to getting behind him something would happen to distance me from him again.

I adore Cassandra Clare's work and have heard fabulous things about Holly Black as well so I went into this novel with huge expectations.  Perhaps that is why I was so disappointed with this book.  Will I continue on with this series?  Maybe.  But only because I have great faith in Cassandra Clare that if anyone can salvage this series, it will be her.  However, it won't jump to the top of my TBR pile when the next installment is released.



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