Genre: SF, YA | Format: eARC | Publisher: Kim Curran | Publication date: 15th May 2013 | My rating: 5/5
Petri Quinn is counting down the days till she turns 16 and can get on GLAZE – the ultimate social network that is bringing the whole world together into one global family. But when a peaceful government protest turns into a full-blown riot with Petri shouldering the blame, she’s handed a ban. Her life is over before it’s even started.
Desperate to be a part of the hooked-up society, Petri finds an underground hacker group and gets a black market chip fitted. But this chip has a problem: it has no filter and no off switch. Petri can see everything happening on GLAZE, all the time. Including things she was never meant to see.
As her life is plunged into danger, Petri is faced with a choice. Join GLAZE… or destroy it.
Oh, Glaze. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
Poetic moment aside, seriously, people. Have you read this yet?
Kim Curran’s decision to self-publish this novel, and her very interesting reasons for it, probably earned the book as much attention online as its subject matter earned interest… But that’s certainly not saying it’s undeserving. Far from it. Having been interested enough to request a review copy when Kim was offering them, and having done my absolute best to devour the book very soon after starting it, I can tell you it’s probably one of the most interesting premises for a YA novel you’ll read this year.
(On a sidenote that I just had to add, here, can I highlight for a moment that tagline on the cover? Now, I live in Scotland. Consider that along with the eerily on-the-money social media relevance that fuels much of this book’s plot, and you’ll start to have an idea of just how tightly this book grabbed me…)
Now let’s talk about that eponymous social media – and the fact that, to be quite honest, the whole thing creeped me out. Don’t get me wrong, that creep factor isn’t so much a bad thing in my book as one of the main reasons I gave the book five stars. Glaze comes in the form of a brain chip that integrates the user directly with social media, and is designed to provide them with all of the information they want, literally as quick as thinking. It’s described in terms that make it sound like an addictive drug – one that brings its users together and makes them happy and (they say) makes the world better, true, but that drug comparison is far from idle.
Petri, our MC, is so desperate to be on Glaze that she’ll go to the black market to do it – but with the installation of her illegal chip, her integration quickly goes very, very wrong. Oh, it works, all right. Trouble is, she can’t turn it off when she wants to, as she is supposed to be able to. Petri has a near-miss with insanity as a result of the unending flood of information coming directly into her mind; the only thing that even comes close to helping is keeping her eyes closed. And even then, she tries to cling to the belief that she’s better on Glaze, that it will work out and be worth it in the end.
Because the creep factor wasn’t already bad enough. Thanks, KIm.
Beyond simply being creeped out, however, this book made me think quite a bit about how (frighteningly) possible such technological developments could be. And about how likely they are. After all, we never seem to be satisfied with just leaving such things as they are. And, in my book at least, the main question is perhaps not so much “can we do this” as “should we be doing it?” – especially given the directions in which Glaze’s creator, Max White, turns out be taking it.
I won’t spoil the story with any more detail there, but trust me. Creepy. And Max White is quite possibly the most unnerving villain I’ve read in a good while (“a twisted Steve Jobs”, in Kim Curran’s own words). Definitely not someone I’d want to cross…
For all of its thought-provoking content, though, Glaze is a quick read. My goodness. “Quick” barely covers it, actually. It’s fresh, it’s energetic, it’s exciting, and if, like me, you’re the kind of reader who can easily throw themselves into a story, it will have you on the edge of your seat more than once. It’s Orwell’s 1984 upgraded for the 2014 YA generation – but it’s more than just another dystopian story for young readers. The term “cautionary tale” could definitely apply here. Not to mention “read the fine print”. Seriously.
So, okay. Enough rambling. I got hooked on this story (note the amusing irony here). I wanted to shake sense into Petri, but long before the end I also wanted to see her succeed, to rise above what she thought of herself as well as bringing down the man. Without giving anything away about it, I found the ending every bit as compelling as the events leading up to it. No drops in my excitement levels or my investment in the story will usually always lead me to give a book a five-star rating, and Glaze is absolutely no exception.
Right! Now for the truly fun part – the giveaway!
This one is tour-wide, so there will be plenty of chances to enter (it will close on the 22nd of May, along with the blog tour). Check out the rafflecopter at the link below for prize details, and good luck to all entrants!