Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Glimpse by Claire Merle

Buy the book: Amazon US ; Amazon UK ; Book Depository

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher from NetGalley.

I first came across this book quite some time ago. I admit that I found myself on the fence about it because of the concept of mental disabilities being genetically passed on from generation to generation.

Title: The Glimpse
Author: Claire Merle
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Target Audience: YA
Genre: Dystopia
Length: 432

Story: 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. 

When Jasper disappears, Ana sets off on his trail, determined to solve the mystery of his abduction. In doing so she journeys into the darkest corners of society, and uncovers some devastating truths that destroy everything she’s ever believed. 

Thoughts and impressions: First of all, a quick disclaimer: I read this book while I was ill with something that had me throwing up on a fairly frequent basis so I had to come and go from this book a lot. I suspect that this will have tampered with my overall understanding of events. Evidence of this is that even after having finished the book I have no clear idea of just what exactly a “glimpse” is or where it comes from!

When you start the book you soon discover that this future society classifies mental disabilities and that three in particular are called “the big three”, deemed to be worse than the others: schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression. Now, while schizophrenia is undeniably a mental disorder, the other two are just part of everyday life. Who among us has never been depressed or anxious about something? I’d imagine no one. This in turn led me to believe that the whole mental health classification was just another way for the few to control the many, something that was soon backed up by revelations within the story.

This said, I find it hard to believe that just ten years or so from now, the population as a whole will swallow the information that they’re fed by those in charge about such a classification. Had it been fed to people a hundred years ago, then it would have been easier to accept, but nowadays I’d like to think that we’re too knowledgeable about such things for this to ever happen.

The story itself was a fairly good dystopian and the society presented was believable even if the way it came to power was on the far-fetched side. It was interesting to see this set in the UK as well as most of the dystopias that I read seem to be set in the US. Even though it was easy enough to unravel many of the mysteries – such as who took Jasper and why – well before the characters got that far, it was still interesting to watch them coming to the same conclusions as me.

I particularly enjoyed the stint in the loony bin. The insane were hospitalising and treating the supposedly insane in conditions that don’t even bear thinking about. Those were some powerful scenes that showed just how far society had really fallen and tested the characters the most. I personally considered them to be the highlight of the book. I would have actually been quite happy to read a whole book with such a setting!

The romance, though, did leave something to be desired. It got off to a good start but then the characters were split up and things evolved to such a point in absence that I wanted to have seen more interactions between them to support such strong feelings. I know they say that absence makes the heart grow stronger, but when I’m reading, I want to be able to observe the growing romance so that I can become invested in it myself as well. In this case, I wasn’t invested and didn’t particularly care which of the two romantic interests she ended up with.

The way that the book ends sets up the possibility of a second book, but I don’t know whether or not this will be continued. It would be interesting to see where things would go from here, though!

Style: I have nothing in particular to say about this style other than that it was nice to read it in my language! It was lovely to see things spelt as I would spell them.

Final verdict: This book was the reason why I introduced the half star system to my blog. I strongly feel that it is better than a 3 star read but not as good as a 4 star read. 3.5 stars

Extra notes: Some bad language. No sex.


  1. Second review with this rating. So I don't think is you. :-)

    1. Aye, I've seen a lot of bad reviews for this one. I think that stems from how the mental illnesses are treated. They're called "crazies" by the people in their society and a lot of people seem to have taken exception to this. I was able to overlook it as a quirk of that society but I may not be in the majority there.

  2. I really like the cover but I don't think this book is for me. the world sounds interesting but well it's maybe a little too much for me. thanks for the review.


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