Book ReviewThe Glass Sentence

Reviewer's Rating: 
I don't need my money back but I'm willing to prop a door open with this one.
Penguin Group, 2014

BOOK ONE: MAPMAKERS TRILOGY.  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 and 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.

First let me say I don't do cartology.  And I mean I REALLY don't do cartology.  When I got my drivers license at 16 my parents and I realized something critical, I had no clue where I was.  At all.  I don't mean what continent I was living on, I mean I couldn't navigate my way around Simcoe County...or Barrie...or Midland...or even, sadly, Elmvale.  I could see the destination in my mind be it EDHS, the IGA, the Co-op but I had absolutely no idea how to get there.  If I was going on a shopping trip to Barrie I'd have to say to my Mom, "Um, which way do I go out the driveway?"  Wow, right?  Fast forward three years and I'm living in Toronto.  Humdinger of a time!  True to my ability to 'see the destination' I would 'see' landmarks and know my turns to make.  The worst was when I used a big billboard to mark my turn - guess what, they changed the dang billboard and I drove right by!  I've worked hard over the years to memorize routes and I'm proud to say within the last year I finally have the difference between Highway 29 and 92 straight in my head.  That was a particularly hard one for me!  It's funny how despite all the hours travelling in the backseat in our rural Ontario area I never paid enough attention to make maps in my head, but I like to think I was super focused in my head with thoughts of my friends at school, or how to earn enough money for the next tape cassette I wanted for my walkman.

So no, I am not a cartologer of any kind.  That might explain why I found this book complicated and a bit arduous to read.  Not only do we have to keep straight in our heads the different ages and where those are in our sense of global geography, we also have time moving at varying rates within those different ages.  Then there's the maps themselves which are created somehow with people's memories of places, the weather, the buildings etc. which I never got the hang of right to the end of the book.
At first, The Glass Sentence is transparently an intense little adventure book.  And a good one at that, but then the layers of complication add up and there are a multitude of minor characters where normally there are just a select few sharing the spotlight.  It read very crowded to me from the middle to end.
For this rating, I have to cry uncle on my own challenging experiences and say it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
four * = 16
Solve this math question and enter the solution with digits. E.g. for "two plus four = ?" enter "6".