The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove Book Review

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: June 12, 2014

In 1799, for reasons that no one can fathom, the Great Disruption threw the world into different time periods. In Boston it is 1891. Other parts of the world are in the future, some in the past. Traveling between these periods can be dangerous as Sophia Tims learned when her parents went missing. Eight years after their disappearance Sophia's Uncle Shadrack also goes missing, but this time she thinks she knows why and where she needs to go next. Having never been outside of Boston before, Sophia teams up with a boy named Theo and soon is on an adventure that will cross the ages.

I loved the idea of this book. The beginning read like some of my favorite mystery video games like Myst and Siberia. A world that is split not by boundary lines and oceans, but by time periods. How easy to get lost when you can walk from the past into the future, or killed if you should stumble upon dinosaurs or glaciers. This is why there are adventurers, explorers, and mapmakers. People who dedicate their lives to creating not just paper maps, but memory maps. These maps allow you to see three-dimensionally into a specific time, allowing not just the place but the people to be mapped as well. What an awesome concept.

Sadly, the execution left something to be desired. Miss Sophia, who claims to be "wise beyond her years", is a rather boring childish character. There are so many great concepts here with her parents missing, the relationship with her Uncle, the inkling of her wanting to help others, Boston closing their borders (which made no sense in the context of the actual story), but in the end, she was just blah. A maiden archetype who wouldn't be worth beans if she didn't keep coincidentally running into people who were willing to help her. Theo, a mysterious boy from the Baldlands, also had a lot going for him and I kept expecting some great truth to be revealed and it never was. Theo is mysterious for no other reason than he has learned how to lie and manipulate over the years. This makes Sophia distrustful but not enough to part ways with him. This portion of the book drove me nuts because she is accusatory and distrustful, but seeing as nothing comes of it and he doesn't change, it felt more like a plot device than actual character growth. In fact, for all her hooting and hollering about not trusting Theo, Sophia is actually very trusting. She believes people when they say they want to help, she obeys when ordered to do things that go against her conscience, and it's a good thing these people are all who they say they are or she would be in some real trouble. Really, I am still trying to figure out why the men who kidnapped her Uncle didn't take her too. It made no sense to leave her behind and then have to go chasing after her later.

To be very frank, I found this book to be extremely confusing. I was constantly having to loo at the maps in the book. I have no idea why the book is even called The Glass Sentence instead of something like The Glass Map or Memory Map. I'm still confused by how these memory maps are made. Absolutely no clue. It must be magic, but I am still unclear as to whether people all lose their memories when making a memory map, or if it has to be done a certain way in order to remain sane. What time period is the Baldlands supposed to be? Do they not share information with other ages? This would have made for a rather amazing Steampunk novel, but with no one from a future age sharing technology with those of different ages, there was just missed opportunities.

There is a mixed bag of opinions about this book, but for me it just felt garbled and full of missed opportunities.