Review: The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove

Title: The Glass Sentence
Series: The Mapmakers Trilogy (#1)
Author: S. E. Grove
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: June 12th, 2014
Page #: 493
ISBN: 0670785024

Goodreads, Author's Website

Goodreads Description
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.
A fantastic book. The worldbuilding was extremely rich and engaging, and I look forward to exploring more of this world in future books. Which is why I was a little upset and took issue with some of the turns that Grove took within the story.
Grove at points makes use of "deus ex machina," a term used to describe a seemingly impossible coincidence to get characters out of a sticky situation. The book starts out just fine, but these increase in number as the book continues.
I also feel that there were some plot points that were not followed up on, and some of the character's actions and decisions were not explained sufficiently or dropped entirely. Unfortunately, I cannot be specific with my examples as many occur in the second half of the book and would require spoilers, but I will say that even the title and tagline on the cover leave me at a loss as to how they relate back to the story.
The reason that I didn't dock more than half a star for these things, as well as the fact that I'm more disappointed than angry, is that Grove is clearly a fantastic writer and a brilliant worldbuilder. I hope that Grove has set aside some of these ideas to be resolved in later books, and that she wasn't pressured to send the final copy before it was time (no pun intended.) I also couldn't help but feel that she sold herself short at times, or wrote herself into a corner even though she pushed the envelope in every other aspect of the book.
That aside, these elements do not diminish how enjoyable it was to read the Glass Sentence. I am amazed that it's only Grove's first book. Aside from the worldbuilding, I very much enjoyed Sofia as a protagonist. She's adventurous and curious, determined and kind. The characters she meets along the way are also interesting, and compliment each other well. I have no complaints about any other aspect of the book (pacing, length, setting, etc.), and hope my lengthy paragraph above doesn't make it seem like I disliked the book. What I listed were my only issues with the book.
Hopefully some of the kinks iron themselves out and the second book is better than ever, but until then the Glass Sentence deserves the high praise it has been receiving and was a wonderful way to start off my 2015 reading challenge.

Four Stars!

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