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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Thought-Provoking But Over-Plotted

The Glimpse - Claire Merle

A dystopian novel set in a near-future in which the population is segregated into Pures who have been diagnosed as free from any potential mental illness and Crazies who have not, The Glimpse is the story of Ana, the daughter of the man who invented the diagnostic tests that determine everyone's fate.

Raised in the Pure community, Ana's world is destabilised at the age of fifteen when her Pure status is revoked and she is diagnosed as mentally suspect. Her continued existence among the privileged elite now depends entirely upon her forthcoming marriage to the respectable Japser, something that is thrown into jeopardy when Japser is abducted from a concert hall one evening.

Ana sets out to track him down but that means leaving the safety of her segregated community, entering the City where the Crazies live and trying to infiltrate the Enlightenment Project, a radical, semi-mystical organisation that has been blamed for terrorist attacks. In the process she falls in love with the boy who is accused of being behind Japser's abduction and discovers that the whole basis of the society she has been living in is nothing but a sham. It reads like a novel by someone who is still only learning to write.

Thought-provoking with real flashes of originality, this novel is nevertheless hugely over-plotted. Every chapter is stuffed full of back-story and untangling the narrative is such hard work that it leaves no space to engage with the characters. It's full of good ideas but they're never completely integrated into the story and ultimately they get in the way of the story-telling.