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Tuesday
Aug072012

Review: Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

I apologize for my recent disapperance. Due to being short-handed at my day job, I haven't exactly been all that conscious by the time I returned home in the evenings. Here's the review that I meant to post yesterday.

Glitch
Heather Anastasiu

St. Martin's Press
Released today - August 7, 2012
371 pages
YA / Sci-Fi / Dystopian

Purchase it from Amazon here

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

I lost count how many times the word “glitch” was used in this book. There were some pages towards the beginning when it wasn’t just on every page; it was on every page several times. I’m glad I didn’t start a drinking game or I would have been wasted before I reached chapter three (I’m kind of a lightweight). I mean, a version of the word is used just in the book’s description five times!

And to be completely honest, that’s really my only serious complaint with Glitch. It’s kind of a fun book with fun characters and when I thought there would be an inevitable betrayal and/or death of a central character, Anastasiu took a quick left turn away from the predictable and complicated things just a little more. When a more solid bad guy is finally introduced instead of just the vague “Society” and then that gets twisted, I found myself pleasantly surprised that I was in fact surprised. I felt like something was up, but it was still nice to not feel like every suspenseful moment is thoroughly telegraphed from the beginning.

But I’m babbling. Zoe lives underground in a bizarre world that’s part Brave New World, part mole people. Chips in everyone’s heads erase human emotion and turn everyone into lemmings that follow directions, work themselves to death and speak in the most polite, computer-programed speech patterns I’ve ever read. During adolescence, before being installed with an adult chips, teenagers on occasion glitch and start seeing colors, feeling emotions and generally becoming normal teens, just with a complete lack of emotional maturity. Along with this malfunction that allows her to experience life as a human being, Zoe discovers she has some superpowers. This eventually leads her into trouble and to the discovery of a resistance movement (as is always the case in books like these) and others like her – both glitchers and supernaturally blessed with crazy powers.

People pretend to be perfectly normal and boring members of society with surprisingly high success considering they’re all so very bad at it. Someone with power catches on and everyone is endangered. Meanwhile there’s a love triangle between Zoe, a boy she’s grown up with who happens to be a typical asshat teenage boy due to a lack of boundaries and anger issues, and a boy who grew up outside the Society, who is far more emotionally stable. Surprisingly this love triangle didn’t grate on me, probably because Zoe never really has the standard “But I love them both!” dialogue ongoing in her head.

I liked Zoe. She’s written in a way that makes her decisions seem sensible and her fears and doubts completely rational. She’s probably the strongest character while still maintaining a vulnerability that makes sense when a teenage girl finally and suddenly finds herself facing the mood swings of adolescence.  Adrien raced in too fast and during too much action to really get established until later in the novel, but he eventually develops into a good character with much deeper aspects than his counterpart, Max, who seems suspicious from the beginning. Our bad guy, while having predictable motives, was established subtly, so that I was aware that this person would be a nemesis but without realizing they were the nemesis.

I didn’t really get why the Society was still putting together people in family groups. Children are created through scientific process using the genes of optimal mates, but with no human emotion or need for bonding, I didn’t really understand why couples were housed together and given children to live with them. It felt like an unnecessary and complicated way to maintain aspects of “normal” society that didn’t benefit anyone. Instead of housing people where they worked or in larger dormitories, the Society wastes precious resources and space to create small family unit dwellings where everyone has their own little room. It didn’t seem entirely practical and ended up being a blockade into fully buying this utopian society of robot-esque people who would stand around while a small child accidentally flings herself in front of a subway train.

But overall, Glitch is a very well-established dystopian world with just enough history and information for it to nearly make sense how society became sheep, electronically controlled by some shadowy computer somewhere. The characters were three-dimensional and while the book doesn’t really have an ending, it didn’t make me want to throw the iPad across the room upon finishing it. Of course this is the first in a series, but the main story of Zoe finding out who and what she is and making a life changing decision despite potential danger to her and everyone she knows is told enough that it didn’t feel like I didn’t at least get most of a single story. This is a world that I’ll be happy to re-enter to see how everything plays out.

I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. Thanks to St. Martin's Press for providing it. The cover image and book blurb comes from Goodreads.com

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