Published: June 7, 2012 (Faber & Faber)
Source: E-ARC from Net Galley
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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 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.
Merle offers readers a new type of dystopian world that is certainly unique in a now-popular genre. The world building is fairly meticulous, and the characters are, for the most part well-developed. I still am not sure if I went into this book with too-high expectations, or if there was something else just off. I'm going to depart from my normal review structure and talk about purely what I liked, and what I didn't like.
What I liked:
- Cole. He pretty much saved The Glimpse for me. Ana meets Cole about a third of the way through the story, and he really captivated me from the beginning. Cole is a musician, and he's also fiercely loyal to his family. I loved learning more about him and his eccentric clan. I found myself wanting to know more about him and his sister, Lila, as well as several of the other secondary characters. Something about their hardscrabble life mixed with their clear love for one another, and the thought of them all struggling to get by, but still being a family just appealed to me.
- The end. This is NOT meant to be sarcastic. I genuinely loved the last few sentences of this book, because Claire Merle has set up the sequel to, I think, be quite awesome.
- The writing style. Merle's writing is really fluid and easy to read. I read The Glimpse really quickly, because despite my issues with it, I did get wrapped up in the story being told.
What I didn't like:
- Ana. I'm predisposed to like the name Anna/Ana. It's just a thing with me. But I HATED this Ana. Time after time she made ridiculous choices that left me shaking my head, stunned, at how she managed to survive this book. I kept wanting to like her, then wanting her to do something to somehow redeem herself. But she never did. Even though I liked other parts of The Glimpse, Ana ruined the story for me.
- The love interests. For me, Jasper - Ana's intended - was a totally flat character. There was a LOT of potential there on his part, and I fully expected Claire Merle to follow through, but she didn't. I needed more backstory and interaction between him and Ana to fully support their joining. And then there was Cole, who by himself was fine, but with Ana, he completely lost any sense of identity and became just part of ColeandAna. I mean, Cole was amazing but we didn't get to SEE anything between him and Ana. Once again we have a pairing in a YA novel that we're just supposed to accept is "meant to be," because it's meant to be.
- The point of view. It jumped around seemingly at random. Maybe this is just in the ARC version I read and in the finished copy this doesn't happen. I hope not, because it jarred me out of The Glimpse every time it happened.
- This whole "Pure" vs "Crazies" deal. While the mental illness aspect and the thought of "Sleepers" (people who carried the gene to develop some sort of mental disorder and might, but might never) was oddly, morbidly fascinating, it was also really offensive and cruel, the way the city was literally divided between the Pures and the not-Pures.