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Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545290180
Date: 01 October 2012 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Author talks about Magisterium / Show Official Info /

Glenn Morgan has grown up next to the Rift. Years ago, Earth was split and her side recovered and threw their energy and intellect into science and technology. She's determined to go into space and explore new worlds. It's been her dream since she was a child and her mother disappeared. Her father is a scientist and has been working on a Project in his workshed behind the house.

According to the satellite photos, the other side of the Rift is total desolation. Nothing lives there except mutants. No one has gone to the other side as long as she's been alive. She's never even been tempted even though it is so close -- essentially behind her backyard.

Glenn's best friend is Kevin Kapoor, the son of her therapist. She'd had to see a therapist when her mother disappeared ten years ago. Kevin bugged her until she, without realizing it, just began to accept him as a friend and confidant. But just this week, Kevin kissed her and now she's confused and angry. He knows she intends to put in her application for training to go off-world. Things are a bit strained between them.

Plus she's got the worry of her father becoming so involved in his work that he doesn't eat and barely sleeps unless she brings him food and watches over him. So, when he burst into her room telling her he has a way to go safely to the other side of the Rift and get her mother back. She's hurt, confused, and scared for him and turns him in.

There's a lot going on she doesn't know about and, in the ensuing confusion when security comes for her father, he puts a bracelet on her and tells her to run. The security forces try to arrest her too and it's Kevin who forces her to run with him into the Rift and to the other side. Kevin has always been fascinated by the Rift and the urban legends about what's on the other side -- for him it's an adventure. For Glenn, this could be the end of her chances to go into space.

This is the setup for Glenn and Kevin's adventure, for the Rift is nothing like Glenn every suspected, and much like Kevin's legends. They have to learn who to trust and what to believe when they have no knowledge of the world they've just walked into.

The characters are well drawn and this divided world is interesting. The only problem I had reading this was that I have a very low threshold for characters who refuse to believe what is right in front of them. Glenn stubbornly refuses to believe that she's seeing what she's seeing, insisting it is all a trick, and if she just goes back home everything will be like it was. In spite of all they go through, she continues to refuse to take part in her own rescue until nearly of the way through the book. I found it to be very annoying, but the solid writing, amazing world-building, and the strong story itself keep me reading.

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