Title: The Glimpse
Author: Claire Merle
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Published: June 07, 2012
Buy: The Book Depository
Claire Merle’s debut novel is set in the UK, a place, which according to the Mental Health Foundation, will see 1 in 4 people experiencing some form of mental illness per year. It is also where I live. Interwoven into Merle’s book are nods to area names that I step foot in every day. The Glimpse takes place in only a small handful of decades from now. In other words, it is a story that could take place in my life time – and this is where I find myself being instantly distanced from the book. The thought of society reaching the point where segregation between those disposed to mental illness and those not becomes the best solution in such a short period of time is incredibly far-fetched. London, of all places, could never be so easily moulded into something that extreme so quickly. While the premise was definitely an interesting one, and also not anything I have encountered before, I was never quite fully convinced.
Although The Glimpse and I got off to a rocky start, I was willing to lose myself in the plot and focus on the good points. This, however, turned out to be quite a challenge. Tedious doesn’t quite cover it. Slow would be an understatement. Claire Merle is not a bad writer, and I have little criticism of the actual writing, but the plot failed to capture significant interest from me. Much of the story line is focused on Ana (the main character)’s attempt to locate her joining partner, Jasper Taurell after he goes missing. This endeavour means leaving the safety of the ‘Pure’ community to stay with the ‘Crazies’. Mostly, I struggled to maintain attentiveness (which is quite a task to accomplish when you care so little about what happens next).
The characters were a mixed bunch, some even quite likable, thankfully. Although my grasp on the secondary characters was a rather flimsy one, it was enough to satisfy me given my reaction to Ana. I fear she may have been somewhat to blame for my lack of interest in the story. Like the plot, she was flat. Forgettable is, unfortunately, quite a fitting word here. Where Ana was dull and one-dimensional, other characters in the book held more of my attention. Her father, for example, was a delight to try to figure out. He was complex – my varying impressions of him were turned on their head several times – and one of the more interesting characters who made this book very nearly worthwhile.
In the end, however, there were too few redeeming qualities to make this a satisfying reading experience. Not even the romance managed to win me over, with enigmatic Cole sweeping Ana off her feet. (There is a slight hint of a love triangle, but nothing of the hair-ripping variety). Having gained so little from this book, The Glimpse, quite clearly, was not meant for me. The sequel will be released in 2013 to form the final book of this duet. I doubt I will be picking it up (no matter how pretty the cover).
Rating: 2 stars