Review: The Glimpse by Claire Merle

The GlimpseIn 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.

I'm going to say something now: I read this book the day before my Clinical Psychology exam (on the diagnosis, causes and treatment of mental health disorders, specifically depression and schizophrenia) and so some of my review may be biased due to my total and utter hatred for that module and the fact that I was stressed, still I will try to be as absolutely objective as possible.

For a book with so much promise and such a fantastic and original storyline, Glimpse was such a let down... not for the reason that a lot of other people seemed to get riled about (the lack of believable science and the use of derogatory terms such as crazies and loonies to refer to people with mental health disorders, though I do see where those people are coming from), it just seems to me that this whole book fell flat in plot, characters, world building and writing. I literally had to force myself through it and felt relief when I finished it. I wanted to like it, I really did, I love controversial and original storylines and sometimes they work. Unfortunately, for me, The Glimpse just didn't work.

I thought that the characters were very flat. Ana was difficult to like as she just seemed very shallow and mean and extremely stupid and didn't think things through at all, so I couldn't empathise or understand what she was doing and this girl is meant to be someone who knows Cambridge law, go figure. The little bits of Jasper that we did see made him seem like a dark and brooding person and not even in that hot indie boy way, I didn't find it attractive at all. I thought Cole was one of the better characters (which isn't saying that much) but he could have done with a little more development because I felt like we really didn't know him that well.

The world building wasn't fantastic either, it just seemed like today's world with the mental health aspect thrown in, rather than a further developed 'dystopian' world and so for me it didn't have that strong setting that this type of dystopian needs.

There was a part of the book that I did like, where Ana entered the institution, I have a feeling that that part was influenced by a real psychology study: "Rosenhan: Being Sane in Insane Places" and that part was actually quite tense and the pace picked up for me a little bit there, and because it's a chunk of the book, I think that's what stopped me from giving up on the book.

Overall, The Glimpse was just not a book that I personally enjoyed or would recommend as I just don't think that the storyline, characters or world building were anywhere near as well developed as they need to be to carry a book this controversial.

Overall Rating: E

Book released 7th June 2012 by Faber and Faber
Book received as an eGalley for review through NetGalley

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