Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Glass Sentence (The Mapmakers Trilogy # 1)

by S.E. Grove
(June 12th 2014, Viking Juvenile)

Book description:

In 1799, an event known as the Great Disruption changed the world forever. Lands and continents broke apart, each flung into a different age.
Thirteen-year-old Sophia Tims lives with her renowned ‘cartologer’ uncle in Boston, New Occident, the new hub of western civilization. Her parents, famous explorers, disappeared years ago while traveling to a different Age. When her uncle, Shadrack Elli, is kidnapped and New Occident threatens to close it borders forever, Sophia must race against time not only to save her uncle but her world as well. 


The world building is incredible and all comparisons to Pullman are warranted. S.E. Grove is a historian by trade and it’s evident in the richness and completeness of her world. 
When I first read the book’s premise, I really couldn’t imagine how the writer was going to convey the multiple ages. But Grove takes her time to set up her world and does it well enough for you to never feel lost or confused. There is much to see and experience in Sophia’s world, from fascinating creatures to complex belief systems. I won’t describe the details here, as I believe they are best discovered within the context of the book. The true standout, though, is the maps, from how they function to their importance in this dizzyingly inscrutable world.  Grove’s idea of maps is one of a kind and alone a worthy reason for reading this book.
Sophia, though not especially heroic, is a kind, intelligent girl who always rises to the occasion, despite the overwhelming situations she is put in.
Most of the book is (wisely) dedicated to explaining the world and how it works. Still, the plot is engaging enough, with only minor lulls aside from the slow beginning. 


The writing is decidedly this book’s biggest weakness. It’s plagued by unevenness, alternating between serviceable, clunky and sometimes masterful –especially when describing sights and sounds.
Secondary characters and occasionally main characters also fall victim to the clumsy prose. They frequently lapse into robot-speak, particularly when there is exposition to be conveyed.  Though few characters are downright dull, none are genuinely compelling. The first fourth of the book is a problem as well. It’s too long and uneventful, possibly putting off less patient readers. 


In a sea of traditional fantasies, The Glass Sentence breaks the mold. Unique, fresh and truly inventive, the world that Sophia and her friends inhabit is worthy of visiting and revisiting and more than makes up for the books shortcomings. A sophisticated and intelligent read recommended for all ages. 

Rating: (8.5/10)

Get it on Book Depository
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