The Glimpse by Claire Merle

Monday 10 July 2017

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 interfere 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.

If I had to sum up The Glimpse in one word it would be 'confusing'.

For the majority of this novel I had no idea what was going on or how anything connected to anything else. Just when I thought I knew what was going on something else would happen and I'd be left scratching me head, as things jumped from one direction to another. The Jasper plot didn't seem to connect with the Cole plot, and neither seemed to connect with the false hospitalisation plot. I could see how they were meant to, but they felt like three separate stories and I just couldn't get my head around them as a whole.

Confusion aside, I did like Ana as a character. Okay, the love triangle she was involved in was completely unnecessary and annoying, but she did grow as things progressed. She went from taking everything at face value to questioning the things she was told. She was kind to others without forgetting about herself. And she became self sufficient very quickly.

The way mental health is tackled in this - and bear in mind I say this as a sufferer myself - is not ideal. However. It is done for a reason, and that reason is that society has split the non-mentally ill people from the mentally ill as a way to control them. This doesn't make it okay by any means, but it's an interesting idea and one that's not far from the reality of the stigma surrounding mental health in the real world. Perhaps the worst part was the depiction of 'treatment' at the various psychiatric facilities throughout the world. They were deliberately awful, with horrific mistreatment, but it echoed the insane asylums of the past and also more recent examples of malpractice (see Rosenhan's 1973 study on 'being sane in insane places'). There could have been another way to drive the plot than using mental health, definitely, but what's done is done unfortunately. And I'll hand it to the author that she managed to capture the stigma and distaste towards mental illness almost too well.

Gripes aside, this is decent. Not the best dystopian, but also not the worst I've ever read either. I just think I've outgrown the genre a little.


  1. Ooh... one to tread carefully with then!

    1. Yep. It could have been better, but it also could have been a lot worse.


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