Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Iron Trial, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare- Review

From Goodreads:
From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

Ok, for starters I hate this description of the book.  It's an ad, not a description, however I am far too lazy these days to ever write my own blurbs. Suffice it to say, this book has been described by the authors as "What if Tom Riddle wrote Harry Potter?"...
I want to pause a moment and let you ponder what that means, because it is a really, really cool concept. And it's also a cool concept written by two really stellar writers, so to say it's brimming with promise is to put it lightly.

The good news is it is really full of potential. The world is fascinating and has an intriguing scope, the set up is good and if you compare this book (book one of 7, just like HP), to the first HP, then it is fairly on track.  Obviously the big reveal at the end isn't as big as it could have been since they've campaigned on the twist, but it still works.

The bad news is that I expected some amazing things from these two writers. I expected Holly's dark, twisted world building and tragic characters that still shine with promise and verve. I expected Cassie's witty repartee and character building.  Granted I imagined it would come together slightly different then when they write separately but Holly is an old hand at corroboration and I just assumed she would have them sharing penmanship gracefully right from the get go.  The fact of the matter is, if I hadn't been told they were co-writing this project, I never would have guessed that either of them had a hand in it, just from reading it.

Part of the issue is a lot happens in a fairly short space of pages, so there just isn't the room for these characters to develop as much as I would want. Since there are six more books I imagine it's a problem that will be rectified by book the second, however it certainly dampens my need to read book the second any time soon.  But I worry that Black and Clare are either being too cautious or just don't pair well together writing wise, because I really didn't seen any of either of their styles in the pages of this book, which was really disappointing for me.

Possibly I read this book with too much excitement for it's potential, and too soon after the disappointment of Clare's final Mortal Instruments instalment.  Possibly it's just a mediocre book that's just fine if you don't read it too close to anything really good. Possibly, it needs book two before these authors catch their stride and start making magic happen. But possibly it's book one of a less than stellar 7 part series. I reserve judgment until I have more to judge.

The Iron Trial, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Published by Scholastic, September 5th, 2014
My copy kindly provided by the publisher


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