The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove is the first in a fantasy series staring a young girl, a very intriguing world where time is broken, and a surprisingly sympathetic villain. Probably the most important thing to know about The Glass Sentence to begin is that it takes place in an alternate world where the world has broken into different Ages of time, some in the far past, some close to modern day, and some possibly in the far future. By moving physically, you move to how that area was at a time possibly different than the day the Great Disruption happened. If that premise doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what will ;-). The Glass Sentence is pitched as a new Golden Compass and while I didn’t love it quite as much as Golden Compass, it is definitely in a similar “grown-up middle grade” vein where even I had to look up words and get a blankie to hide behind, but the main character is a pre-teen.
Note: I received a copy of The Glass Sentence from the publisher. This doesn’t affect my opinion.
The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove (The Mapmakers Trilogy #1)
Published by Viking Penguin on June 12th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 512 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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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.
- I can’t get over how awesome the world of The Glass Sentence is! There are even multiple maps in the paperback so that you can zoom in on areas that are traveled in the story. I just really love the idea of the world being broken between different centuries and needing to go out an explore in order to figure out what technology is even out there anymore. The world-building completely lives up to the promise of the premise too with some very cool references and adventuring into ages past and future!
- There are pirates :D. I was not expecting to join up with a merry band of pirates or for them to be such important allies, but it was a whole lot of fun for The Glass Sentence to deviate into a pirate-adventure tale for a while ;-).
- The Glass Sentence has a strong focus on friendship with Sophia and Theo’s trust and friendship being a key element to the plot and the characters’ survival. Sophia’s friendship with the pirates is also pretty important and, again, all the fun!
- While The Glass Sentence does suffer from absent-parent syndrome, Sophia’s uncle is a stand-in father and mother to her and their bond is really touching. You don’t see uncle and niece being a central family unit in fiction all that much, so that was a nice change of pace and I wish I had an uncle like Shadrack!
- Few things make me love a story more than a multi-dimensional and sympathetic villain and The Glass Sentence really succeeds at this. It was a subtle start and I thought we’d end up with a basic world-domination plot line, but there is so much more going on in The Glass Sentence and it teaches a great lesson of everyone thinking they are doing the right thing.
- The Glass Sentence is incredibly readable. I found myself tearing through the pages in a weekend despite its length. This is partially to do with it being aimed at a younger audience I’m sure, but it balanced a plot worthy of any adult novel with fast pacing so things didn’t get bogged down.
- As I said above, there were a couple of times when I was reading The Glass Sentence that I came across words I was unfamiliar with. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but when that was mixed with some other times when the writing felt overly simplistic, I can’t honestly tell you what age range this book is most appropriate for. I guess quite advanced younger readers and those of us with a young heart?
- While I enjoyed the world-building we got, I still want to know way more about the world and the magic involved in The Great Disruption. Obviously that’s what a sequel is for, but I felt like more of a sense of wonder could have made The Glass Sentence better.
- There are times The Glass Sentence relied on telling instead of showing in that events were sort of skipped and then recapped. This always annoys me because if I wanted to read a summary of the plot, I could do that easily without reading the book!
The Glass Sentence is a great read for fans of Pullman that are looking for another series that has a similar high-middle-grade feel to it. I’m still waiting to find out more about the world before I’m completely satisfied there, but I’ll definitely be grabbing the sequel and diving back into this intriguing world and great family of characters!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove
© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.