Genre: YA Dystopian
Pub Date: June 7, 2012
Rating: PG-13 for some disturbing and slightly mature scenes at a loony dump.
Coffee Beans: 3.5/5
Favorite Line(s): “It was like a curse. He was her antidote. She was his poison.” (ebook, pg 35), “She stared at him fiercely, but her eyes snagged on his blue irises and her heart back-flipped, landing askew in her chest.” (ebook, pg 175), “Ana baulked like a horse reaching a ten-foot-high jump.” (ebook, pg 177, “Her mind felt like sludge the whole world had walked their dirty boots through.” (ebook, pg 256)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review
Throughout England people are now divided into Pures and Crazies according to the results of a DNA test, with the Pures living in small Communities cut off from the madness of society, and the Crazies living outside the walls in the squalor and mayhem of the City. Until the age of fifteen, Ana has lived a privileged existence amongst the Pures, but her whole world crumbles when she finds out that there was a mistake with her Pure test. She is actually one of the Crazies, and one day in the near or distant future she will become sick. But Ana has already been promised to Pure-boy Jasper Taurell. Jasper is from a rich and influential family and despite Ana's defects, wants to be with her. The authorities grant Ana a conditional reprieve. If she is joined to Jasper before her 18th birthday she may stay in the Community until her illness manifests. But if Jasper changes his mind, she will be cast out among the Crazies. As Ana's joining ceremony looms closer, she dares to hope she will be saved from the horror of the City and live a 'normal' life. But then Jasper disappears. Led to believe Jasper has been taken by a strange sect the authorities will not interfere with, Ana sneaks out of her well-guarded Community to find him herself. Her search takes her through the underbelly of society and into the pits of the human soul. And as she delves deeper into the mystery of Jasper's abduction she uncovers some devastating truths that destroy everything she has grown up to believe, but she also learns to love as she has never loved before.
What?!?! The surmounting cases of mental disease as the main plot in a dystopian tale? A pharmaceutical company ruling the world through the creation of a one-pill-fix-all? GENIUS! I don’t know why this hasn’t been done before.
In a time when dystopians are all the rage, it’s easy to see the same ol’, same ol’ on the bookshelves of your local bookstore. Run down world, society crumbling, a controlling force running rampant. But The Glimpse offers us something new and fresh, and it’s welcomed.
The beginning drops you at the set-up of the conflict. Ana is in Home Ec class learning how to test water temperature for a baby’s bath (this future society focuses on the traditional values of homemaking and chastity and dresses for the girls. It’s unique.) She gets called into the principal’s office where her father and The Board is waiting for her. Apparently, they did some digging and her Pure test yielded wrong results. Her father is accused of tampering with the test and Ana’s life is forever changed. She is now labeled as a Sleeper, a person with mental disease genetic markers who isn’t exhibiting symptoms now, but will one day.
What I liked:
The premise is brilliant and original. Society is divided by a person’s mental status—the Pures (no genetic markers for mental instability) and the Crazies (individuals with any genetic marker of mental instability). The Pure Test’s validity—designed by Ana’s dad—is in question.
(And…..cue story conflict.) The world that Merle created is so real and possible is at times, unsettling.
While the feeding in of the back-story and political make up was there, it was cleverly hidden. I didn’t feel it was a “maid and butler conversation” which is good, but in the end I still knew I was being told instead of showed. Merle had a beautiful opportunity to really show the reader everything, and I don’t feel that was fully reached.
There was some great imagery: “The men and women who came to question her were always different, but they managed to create an unnervingly unified presence, like they were the close-up parts of a larger animal, whose singular striations and skin texture were always recognizable as part of a distinct whole.” Pg 57, ebook. And the way she described how horrible the loony dumps were, was perfection. It was all so unsettling and disturbing and vivid.
Reading a UK author, it’s always entertaining to see curb spelled kerb and those extra u’s all over the place and s’s instead of z’s or c’s as well as the foreign words for everyday items (i.e. fags for cigarettes). The Glimpse is a long book, but it reads pretty easily and is entertaining and engaging.
What I didn’t like:
The potential to really dig down into Ana’s world and build up layers is begging to be done. That’s why I was a little disappointed. I saw the possibilities. I hoped and was excited for the complexity and layers of what could be. But the story didn’t go deep enough. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at what could have been.
I was a little confused in parts of the book as to what was going on and what the setting was at the beginning. But that was in part, my own problem. I’m used to the typical dystopian setting so Ana’s world was a little hard for me to imagine (even though it was set in existing towns). I know it takes place in London, but I’m talking about the feel f the setting, the technology, etc. I started to get a better image as the story progressed, I would have liked to have a stronger sense from the first page (think Cinder by Marissa Meyer), and there were still pockets of confusion as the story went along its merry little way. Even though that was my own handicap while reading, I did feel the world was a little one layered. As I mentioned earlier, I felt this story and setting had the opportunity to do so much more than it did, and I was a little let down.
I had a slight problem with the reasoning behind some of Ana’s actions and decisions. For example: Very early on in the story, Ana tells us that she hates her father because of this one action we’re shown (and I’m assuming from some vaguely hinted at feelings from earlier in her life). Anyway, with what the reader’s given in the story up to that point, I don’t feel her feelings or actions are appropriately motivated. Now, had we been given her feelings and reactions later on in the story, after some other things happen, then yes. Completely justified. I’d hate the man, too. The last thing that somewhat bothered me was that whenever Ana comes to a conclusion or a realization, it comes across a little stiff, almost like the author doesn’t know how best to get the idea across.
And now the cover, because I always make a comment on the cover. I didn’t like it. Not for this book. It didn’t make sense at all. It made me think that this story was going to be a literary or contemporary piece. Not dystopian. It’s a little too clean. (Maybe that’s because it looks SO MUCH like the cover of another lit/cont story I love so much). But, this is the UK cover (from my understanding, so hopefully the US cover will be a little more dark and brooding to fit the story.) Oh, and a side note, I don’t know if the title is the best for this book. But, what do I know?
Anyway, pick it up and decide for yourself. It’s definitely worth a read. Happy reading, my friends!