Author: Claire Merle
Genre: YA, dystopian, paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi
Publication Date: June 7, 2012 (expected – UK, US is TBD)
Summary: In a near future, society is segregated according to whether people are genetically disposed to mental illness. 17-year-old Ana has been living the privileged life of a Pure due to an error in her DNA test. When the authorities find out, she faces banishment from her safe Community, a fate only thwarted by the fact that she has already been promised to Pure-boy Jasper Taurell.
Jasper is from a rich and influential family and despite Ana’s condition, wants to be with her. The authorities grant Ana a tentative 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 and her birthday loom 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 intefere 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.
☆: 1/5 stars – promising plot elements, but ultimately fails to deliver.
Review: Oh boy. Where do I begin? I was hoping for more than what I got with “The Glimpse” (and I didn’t glimpse much, in the end), and in general, it was pretty disappointing. The conspiracy angle was especially promising, but ultimately, this book failed to deliver for me.
First, let’s address POV – it feels like Merle has a bit of a problem deciding who’s going to narrate the first few chapters as she uses third person omniscient. It’s a bit dizzying to read, and not in a good way. First, it feels like she tries third person close, but then that suddenly switches not even mid-chapter from Ana to Jasper and then we’re inside their heads. Going back and forth between close and omniscient makes it hard for the reader to follow, and I think had these early chapters had a bit more editing to smooth out these POV changes, it might have been easier to get into.
Then, there’s character. Unfortunately, all of the characters felt really flat to me – 1D, for sure. They didn’t feel like real people, but paper cutouts of real people. I didn’t feel any real emotional connection with Ana, as she flip-flopped quite frequently on her views about the Crazy/Pure dynamic (and that’s just to start), and Jasper, even less. The emotional connection with an MC is what makes the story readable, and I just felt no connection whatsoever here, sad to say.
In terms of handling mental illness, many have compared this to “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver. While the plot differs in what constitutes “disease” (in “Delirium”, love is the root of most disorders, including mental ones), and in “The Glimpse”, there are the Big3 – depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. According to your genes, you can be a a Pure (congrats! your genes are 100% crazy-free!), an Active (as in “actively mentally ill”), a Carrier (you carry the genes, but won’t “get sick” yourself), and a Sleeper (you’ll probably get sick at some point, most likely around age 18 where society can easily toss you out into Crazy City). I found that all of these components knit together far too easily and neatly one moment (especially where you can get tossed out of society the moment you’re most likely to get sick if you’re a Sleeper) and the messily next moment (the conspiracy of the Crazy/Pure testing dynamic from the government is most likely happening then suddenly it’s not). The inconsistencies were great, and this made the plot more than a little hard to follow. There were so many ups and downs and unreliable information given to the reader (and not in the fun unreliable narrator sort of way) that I finally gave up on trying to figure out what was going on at any given moment by not finishing the book.
So…yeah. There are a lot better-crafted YA dystopian stories out there, so I suggest you read those and skip “The Glimpse”. I haven’t totally ruled out reading more of Merle’s material from here on out, but I just couldn’t get through this one. “The Glimpse” is now available in the UK/Europe from Faber and Faber (no information for US distro is available at this time), so be sure to go out and read it and decide for yourself.