The Glass SentenceWritten by S. E. Grove
(Viking Juvenile - 6/12/2014)Series: The Mapmakers Trilogy #1
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover (512 pages)
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.
The Glass Sentence plunges readers into a time and place they will not want to leave, and introduces them to a heroine and hero they will take to their hearts. It is a remarkable debut.
First impression: curious. I decided to read this book because it’s a 2014 debut and it looked sort of interesting. I requested it on Edelweiss but was denied, so I shrugged and moved on.
Second impression: excited. When I went to pick up my pre-ordered copy of Ruin & Rising, I saw The Glass Sentence on display, and the bookshop owner started raving about it. Once I picked it up and saw the GORGEOUS cover design and the MULTIPLE maps inside, I knew I needed to have it.
Third impression: enthralled! I was eager to start reading once I had it in my hands, and OH MY GOD, I was immediately sucked in. Right from the first page, this book is interesting, and I could tell that the world would be rich and full and vivid; the story full of mystery and adventure. (I mean, you can probably tell that just by looking at the cover — have you SEEN that cover?!)
This book quickly earned a place on my all-time favorites shelf.
Well, what’s so great about it?
Grove is clearly a learned individual, and it shines through in the depth and richness within these pages. Like Gene Wolfe, you can tell this writer is a historian, because the detail and fullness of the historical descriptions seem to come so naturally through the pages. However, unlike Gene Wolfe, Grove makes it all so gosh-diddly-darn accessible.
This book is a rare gem because it is so full of imagination that I was just about to burst with excitement the entire time I was reading it. The blend of mapmaking, time travel (in a sense), and steampunk technology is only one of the areas in which this story shines. The world is fractured into various Ages, and each one is clearly different, interesting, vivid, and full of its own wonders and mysteries.
The characters are each their own person, full of her and his own quirks, foibles, and personal issues. Every single person, down to the minimal side characters, felt like a fully realized individual. The writing is so well-done that not only was I able to easily visualize the settings, but the characters came to life in my mind’s eye just as easily. I fell in love with every character, every setting, and every idea I encountered in its pages.
Folks, I’m going to say it.
And if this doesn’t convince you to read The Glass Sentence, then I’m afraid all hope is lost for you. S. E. Grove is the Brandon Sanderson of YA/MG literature. I am now completely, utterly, a diehard fan of this author and this series. The Glass Sentence is without a doubt the best debut novel I have ever read. I am enchanted.