Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial
by Holly Black &
Cassandra Clare
From the publisher:
"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 . . ."

This book was recommended to me by some of my 8th graders who absolutely love it. I can't say that I loved it, but I mildly enjoyed it and can see why middle schoolers would love it. My main problem was that I didn't connect to the main character. I thought he was obnoxious and unsympathetic (like Dark Harry in The Order of the Phoenix .... no, Harry was much less obnoxious and much more sympathetic). Could it have been my annoyance with his name? Callum.... pronounced Cal-um... correct? And yet his nickname is Call. I'm sorry, is that supposed to be pronounced the way it is spelled, or the way a nickname for Callum should be said? It drove me crazy because I can not read the word Call as Cal. Actually, though, I didn't feel connected to any of the characters. The plot was interesting, and there was a big twist at the end that I didn't see coming. I thought the world-building was cool - an underground magic school where the lichens and fungus taste like all your favorite foods, but believe me I would much prefer my magic school to be in beautiful Scotland next to a mysterious loch. I'm going to tepidly recommend this one for adults, but strongly recommend it for middle schoolers. 

Areas of concern: (Actually a pretty clean read, which is surprising coming from these two authors.)
*A mother's violent death and her instructions to "Kill the Child"
*A scary wolf-attack scene (I put that in because I had a daughter who was scared silly of wolves :) )
*Death of a student
*Several instances of bullying

Suggested Ages:
Kirkus Reviews - Ages 9-13
School Library Journal - Grades 5-8

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