Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: The Glass Gauntlet

Book Review: The Glass Gauntlet by Carter Roy

Goodreads Description: Ronan Truelove barely survived his first encounter with his father and the Bend Sinister. Now, he’s determined to become one of the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect thirty-six pure souls crucial to the world’s survival.

Eager to prove he’s got what it takes, Ronan is sent on his first mission with his friends Greta and Sammy to visit a weird-sounding school and take a series of tests called the Glass Gauntlet. Paper and pencils and nerdy scholarship—where’s the life-or-death challenge in that?

But the Glass Gauntlet is actually something much more dangerous: head-to-head competitions against ruthless opponents. Nothing and no one are what they seem. Who can he trust, and who will kill him? Ronan has to figure it out fast because his enemies are multiplying, and soon he will have to pass the ultimate test: facing his father again and standing up to those who threaten not only him and his friends but also the world.

My Review: An ARC of the Glass Gauntlet was given to me by MB Communications, but my opinion is entirely my own.

I hit the ground running when reading THE GLASS GAUNTLET as I had not read the first book in the series. I could have taken the time to read the first one, but I more wanted to read TGG on its own to see how well it stood up as its own story. After all, even though we write a series, aren't we told to make each book able to stand on its own? Its with that thought that I dived into these pages, and I gladly wasn't let down.

The beginning of the book is a little bogged down with some telling of what occurred in the previous book. As I had not read the first book, I found this information helpful, though many other readers could quickly grow tired of the explanations. Besides that, the book starts right into action, begginning with training in the Blood Guard's base camp before moving out to the estate of Agatha Glass to compete in some sort of 'test.' At first glass, Agatha's test could be seen as a refinishing of the Hunger Games trope-- a competition with life threatening challenges that runs the majority of the plot. Thankfully, this is not the case, as the "test" is not what the story focuses on, but rather everything going on outside of the test, which was refreshing. The tension and voice kept the story moving fluidly until all the tipping points are in place. It was nice to see that the major complications that Ronan faces in this story is caused by his own actions. Rather than being dragged along as a tool of the plot, Ronan instead makes choices both in the beginning and at the end that greatly shapes the outcomes. I especially liked how his decisions made things worse rather than better, as it keeps the tension high and the main character in the action seat.

The entire book had a definite feel of Rick Riordan's books, and many mirroring ideas. But where Riordan's stories focus more on magic, the GG is more focused on tech. The main mystery focuses around the glass gauntlet, what it can do, and how they were going to make it work. The writing is smooth and rather descriptive without going on for paragraphs and paragraphs. The way Carter Roy described scenes and actions made it very easy to visualize. His writing style keeps the pace swift and with deliberate details that are easy to latch onto.

One of the downsides was the lack of serious character changes or development over the course of the novel. I figure that more characterization of the main three characters took place in the first book, and the second is now more focused on plot than building up characters. It was nice to see some of Ronan's struggles-- how he dealt with thinking of his father and his responsibility to Greta-- but outside of him there's not much there besides showcasing character skills to convey personality. The character I was most interested in was Jack Dawkins, mostly because the mystery of his history and the emotion brought out of him, having to face friends he hadn't seen for many many years.

All in all, The Glass Gauntlet made for an enjoyable and fast-paced read. It definitely feels like a book that would appeal to boys, especially those interested in things like the Percy Jackson series. I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did and was delighted with the ideas and plot elements Roy brought to the table.

TL;DR: 3/5 stars. A good adventure story for those who dream of being a hero.


  1. I think your assessment that "It definitely feels like a book that would appeal to boys," is a tad sexist. Otherwise I think you're judging this book harshly, it was written at a 4th grade level.

  2. Thanks for your feedback. While I will say that of course not all boys have to like the same thing, there is a definite trend of narrative that would appeal to boys. This is mostly based on my experience and my own opinion while I was reading it. It goes along with what western society would consider "normal" for boys' gender roles, ie., Ronan protecting Greta as she is the "pure," which very strongly reminded me of the traditional "hero saving princess" which is a tale that is retold again and again in media and art forms that appeal to a large number of boys (video games as one example). Now, I wouldn't say every boy will love this book, but as this is a review I wanted to give an idea of the type of reader it would appeal to. I wouldn't suggest that someone buy The School of Good and Evil for 4th grade boys, as it is marketed towards girls and boys at that age tend to be more caught up in traditional gender roles, ie., not liking princesses or wanting to read about tea parties. I didn't mean to come across as sexist, but merely to state my own opinion while reading it.

    As for the 4th grade level, I would have to very much disagree. There is absolutely no reason why the age level you are writing for should affect the quality of story or writing. Some great classics have been written for children that are considered incredibly complex and beautiful--A Wrinkle in Time, The Outsiders, The Chrysalids, etc. Children can understand complex plots and appreciate detailed storytelling-- but they're also a hell of a lot less pretentious and picky than adults, and so are able to enjoy when something is just simply for fun. It's the lazy writer or pretentious reader that says writing for children means they don't have to work at it. I enjoyed the Glass Gauntlet more than I thought I would, and I admitted where I had my own shortcomings, but there were still things I found that could be improved. Even the books I absolutely am head over heels in love with, there are ways to improve. It may be a harsh way of looking at things, but criticism is the only way to improve, after all.