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MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch

MAGISTERIUM

By Jeff Hirsch

Age Range: 12 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-545-29018-0
Publisher: Scholastic

What could have been an interesting exploration of the conflict between science and magic instead devolves into a choice based simply on who has the bigger bombs.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn is a genius computer engineer torn between the desire to travel into deep space and the need to care for her increasingly unstable father. Perhaps it’s this tantalizing beginning that creates such disjunction once this tale turns out to be just one more story of a chosen girl with an inborn destiny. It seems that the Rift that destroyed so much of Earth in the year 2023 wasn’t a natural phenomenon after all. Instead, deep in the Rift lies a magical land, the Magisterium. There, quelle surprise, Glenn learns she has a dark magical heritage. The land calls out for a savior, but whom can Glenn trust? While she deals with her own developing magical powers and the possible betrayal of Kevin, her best friend and erstwhile beau, Glenn fights in a sudden and fairly inexplicable war that has descended upon the Magisterium. In fantasyland, Glenn’s apparently genius-level skills at engineering lie undeveloped and unmentioned. Even her name changes, the “Glenn” (perhaps evoking astronaut John Glenn) replaced with the over-the-top fairy-tale name “Glennora Amantine.” “You’re a scientist,” Kevin tells Glenn. “Tell me you don’t want to understand....” Would that she did, but there’s no thoughtful consideration here.

Rushed worldbuilding and romance by peer pressure undercut any excitement the occasional battle might engender. (Fantasy. 12-14)