How do I really feel about The Iron Trial?Excellent question. I'm glad you asked that. And we're going to talk about this completely logically...but first...
Thank you, Harry. I'll take it from here. (But, just so you know, I'm making a similar face and flailing like Harry in the above gif. Although I'm shorter than he. Just by, like, 3 inches.)
I half loved it! And I half loathed it.
It dabble deep into Harry Potter territory, but at the same time absolutely smashed stereotypes and cliches. Particularly at the end! Seriously, whatever you do, do NOT stop reading this book halfway. The fabulousness is at the ginormous reveal at the end.
I'm so torn, I'm just going to write a list, okay?! WE ALL LOVE LISTS. (Don't roll your eyes at me.)
THINGS I LOVED- Call was a very unique narrator. He's 12. Angry. Bitter. Troublemaker. (He's like the magical equivalent of Ramona Quimby...trouble, but usually accidental.) Call also is crippled in one leg.
- The book begins with a BANG. Usually I'm not a fan of prolgues, and when I saw there was one...I sighed. BUT THEN IT WAS AWESOME. Call's father walks onto a battlefield and discovers his wife dead and his baby son's leg smashed. His wife carved in the ice KILL THE CHILD. Well, okay then. What wizardry (literally) is this??
(Although, I was thinking about all the routes you could go with a delicious phrase like that, and I coincidentally thought about what I would do if I was a writer. And I accidentally I predicted the ending from page 5...but I don't think that'd happen to everyone.)
- THE ENDING. OH, PEOPLES, THE ENDING!! It was so unique and so utterly unprecedented and I...I'm still reeling. The ending blew my previous growling glances into oblivion. It knocked me down. IT MAKES ME WANT TO RECOMMEND THIS BOOK FROM THE ROOFTOPS.
THINGS I WAS UNHAPPY WITH:
- Okay, so there's a lot of subtle child abuse. It frustrates me because the "good guys" are the ones being cruel and downright wrong to children for the pure fact that...they're adults. They have power over children. I find this unacceptable and wrong. I don't think it's fair or okay to write books for 12-year-olds where the adult figures are doing WRONG things, but it's written in a "well that's just how it is". Kids do not deserve to be treated poorly. And I think the more society underlines that "eh, yeah, whatever, that's just how it is...adults have more power and can wield it" then the more it become "acceptable" for us to continue it. IT IS WRONG! STOP WRITING ABOUT IT LIKE IT'S FINE.
Call gets dragged away from his father, kicking and screaming, at the beginning of the book. He doesn't want to go to Magic School. His father doesn't want him to. Call is begging to stay. And worse still, they take him against his will to this school and then do not let him speak to his father. Not a phone call. Not a visit. THE KID IS 12 FREAKING YEARS OLD. Am I the only one really traumatised by this? I was angry. This is never ever indicated as "wrong" later.
Master Rufus clearly wasn't going to let him [Call] communicate with Alistair until Call settled in as an apprentice. pg. 85
- The Magisterium (magic school) basically lies to the parents. They say the school is for anything that will make the kids succeed. So you go there thinking it's "ballet school" or "pre-med school" or..."pony school" (that happened) and then it turns out to be magic school where you'll never see your kids for a whole year. THAT IS ALSO WRONG AND SUFFICIENTLY SCARY. And I didn't understand how this even worked, because most parents were magicians or came from magical families...so wouldn't they know how the school worked?? Still, the school effectively lures children in and kidnaps them.
"Do they all know they're here to try to get into magic school?" [Call] asked quietly.
His father shook his head. "The parents believe whatever they want to believe and hear whatever they want to hear. If they want their child to be a famous athlete, they believe he is getting into an exclusive training program. If they hope she'll be a brain surgeon, this is pre-pre-premed. If they want him to grow up to be wealthy, then they believe this is the sort of prep school where he'll hobnob with the rich and powerful." (pg. 17)
- All the Harry Potter similarities. Not limited to the trio of Call, Tamara and Aaron (respectively Call is the troublemaker, Tamara is the studious uptight girl, and Aaron is...there.) They pick themselves up a Dobby like creature. Call has Hagrid tendencies with all the crazy creatures. There are ghosts flitting around. The "bully", Jasper, is Draco Malfoy.
- The writing felt thick and I struggled to stay engaged. It's definitely MG, so this confuses me! Most MG books I read have short paragraphs, funky voice, and keep things on the humorous side (with good dashes of scariness and evil villains). But The Iron Trial honestly felt slow. Even their training wasn't very exciting. They moved grains of sand. Hip, hip horaaah...Let me sleep.
- Too many unanswered questions. Like how the school functioned? How much magic is in the world? Is the test of "are you a wizard, 'Arry?" mandatory or optional? Why do they keep ferocious monsters in the school? (Just to lure kids in to be possibly eaten?) What are the Chaos-ridden exactly?? I have too many questions. I feel like the world needed so much more building.
But through all this...it's the ending that brings me back to flailing.
I love both the authors and I'm so so excited they wrote together! I'm definitely reading the rest of the Magisterium books because DID I MENTION THE PLOT TWIST AT THE END IS FREAKING FANTASTIC??!!! IT IS! GO READ THIS BOOK! It sets up to be full of cliches and then smashes them at the end...but I wonder if it should've been more original all the way through?
Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .
Cait is still away. There, there, she knows you miss her. She is, of course, not commenting on everyone's blogs or replying to tweets or emails or...anything. Keep calm. She'll catch up when she's back. Since she's scheduling this post, she has no idea what she's currently doing...but probably reading RED GLOVE because Holly Black is her literary hero.