Monday, September 4, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Title: The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1)
Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 295

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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...

I'm going to set up this review a bit differently than most. I'm going to jump right in with the issues I found in The Iron Trial, and save the plot summary for a bit later. I typically try to discuss my positive thoughts first, before going into my negatives, but I have absolutely nothing positive to say about this book. So here we go...

My biggest complaint about The Iron Trial is that it is a complete and total rip-off of the Harry Potter series. But it is also a completely horrible book on its own. Let's discuss its problems outside the realm of Harry Potter first.

Oh my goodness, this book was bad. It was so absolutely boring that listening to it at two times the normal speed was too slow for me. Our main characters literally spend chapters sorting sand into two piles. You read that right. I said chapters. CHAPTERS. Ok, fine, this somehow taught the students an important lesson about their magic. But did it seriously have to last that long? That just tells me that the authors couldn't think of anything more exciting to write, so they just went, "Hey, ten chapters of sand sorting sounds good to me! Gotta get that word count up before the next deadline!" (I don't know if it was actually ten chapters, but it was an absurdly long amount of time that was completely unnecessary and utterly boring.) The characters were also boring and flat. They would occasionally try to make jokes or use witty banter, but they just weren't funny at all. The writing in general was just plain awful.

Ok, now for the good stuff. Let's discuss the similarities between The Iron Trial and Harry Potter. Now before you get all upset and say, "But MC, coming-of-age wizard boarding school stories are all over the place now! Of course there will be some similarities between the books, but that doesn't make them all the same!" - let me tell you something. I ADORE any type of story that is like Harry Potter. I will devour every single "boy goes to magical school, learns to cast spells and fight the bad guys, discovers he is the Chosen One (but couldn't have saved the world without his trusty best friends)" story that you hand me. And I don't care how much they resemble Harry Potter. But if you are going to basically COPY ANOTHER BOOK and call it your own, then we have a problem.

Where do I even start? Our main character Harry Call was just an infant when he found himself at the massacre of numerous wizards mages. He was injured, leaving him with a scar (on his leg.) His mother died protecting him. Because of her sacrifice, Call has grown up and now has the same dark, messy mop of hair as his father. He has been raised outside of the magical world, but everyone in the magical world knows who he is. When he gets chosen to attend the Magisterium, he is partnered with Aaron, an orphaned boy (I see what you did there, Holly and Cassandra. "If we make a DIFFERENT character an orphan, no one will see what we did!" WE SEE YOU.), and Hermione Tamara, a know-it-all girl. The three become the very best of friends and get into all kinds of shenanigans together.

OH, and did I forget to mention the bad guy in this story? Well let me introduce you to Voldemort the Enemy of Death, a mage who went bad. He wanted to conquer death, live forever, and bring the dead back to life. How did he manage to do this? I won't tell you the exact manner because of spoilers, but he basically uses the same tactics as our good old friend, Voldemort. By the way, did you know that in French, Voldemort means "flight from death?" COME ON. Flight from death. Enemy of Death. We see you Holly and Cassandra. WE. SEE. YOU.

I think it is safe to say that I did not like this book one bit. Even discounting the Harry Potter ordeal, the book was completely awful on its own. But the fact that two successful, highly-acclaimed, (supposedly) talented authors got together and couldn't come up with a single original thought is horrendous. I know Cassandra Clare has been involved in plagiarism scandals before, and, to be honest, I haven't paid much attention to them. I don't know any of the details involved. But after reading The Iron Trial, these allegations have a bit more light shed on them. This read like a poorly written fan fiction, but it is even more of a travesty because it was written by two authors who were clearly just trying to get a paycheck and didn't want to put in the effort to come up with their own story. 

This book does not deserve a rating