Author: Heather Anastasiu
Series: #1 in Glitch trilogy
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 371 in paperback
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from July 29 to August 2, 2012
Summary: Zoe lives in a world free of pain and war. Like all members of the Community, a small implanted chip protects her from the destructive emotions that destroyed the Old World. Until her hardware starts to glitch. Zoe begins to develop her own thoughts and feelings, but nothing could be more dangerous in a place where malfunctions can get you killed. And she has another secret she must conceal at all costs: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers. As she struggles to keep her burgeoning powers hidden, she finds other glitchers with abilities like hers, and together they plot to escape. But the more she learns about beauty, joy, and love, the more Zoe has to lose if they fail. With danger lurking around every corner, she’ll have to decide just how much she’s willing to risk to be free.
"Love shouldn't exist but it does. It's the biggest anomaly, some might say the biggest defect, of the whole human race. But it's the most beautiful anomaly. I understand that now. And I would give up anything for you, even if you don't feel the same way. Because I love you."
In Glitch, everyone lives underground in the Community because they're told that the surface is dangerous and deadly. Everyone has a v-chip at the back of their neck that connects them to the Link. When they're connected, they zone out and become a drone; they don't think, don't notice beauty in things and they don't feel any emotions. This is so that order can be maintained in the community where everyone serves a purpose. Order first, order always. But what happens if something is out of order? Someone like Zoe? Zoe starts glitching. She is somehow disconnected from the Link and she can think for herself and feel emotions unfamiliar to her. These behaviors are anomalous and need to be reported, so that they can fix her. But Zoe is reluctant. She wants to be fixed so that she doesn't have to live in fear of possible deactivation if they find out, but she also wants to embrace all these human things. She still wants to feel, to think, and to draw. Watching people go on being drones, she realizes that this is nothing but slavery, and together with a few others who malfunction like her, she will struggle to free herself from the Community and claim the freedom that's been taken away from everyone.
This book didn't start out as an easy read for me. It starts with Zoe telling us about a day in her life which includes drawing, breakfast, going to the market and telekinesis. I feel that the author didn't do well enough with the world-building for a dystopian book, so it was really confusing for me for a long while. I didn't get why everyone has to live underground, and how exactly the uppers rose to power, and how the society is run. I didn't get how it is that people live underground and take subways from housing units to school or whatever. I mean, I used to wonder a lot what it'd be like if we all could live underground. I was in Singapore earlier this year and had fun exploring its little underground city. It's so huge and it's so endless. But even as huge and endless as it is, I doubt it could house a nation of its own like in Glitch. So I had a tough time trying to believe this. Plus, the description didn't help. I found it lacking and confusing a lot of times, especially when it comes to describing Zoe's room. From the narration, I came up with at least different five versions of her room, each for a different scene. One time, the bed looks like this and stands there; another time, it looks different. I don't know if it's just me or it's really the way it's written that's so confusing, but reading this really did annoy me.
And sadly, the confusion wasn't the only thing that prevented me from fully enjoying the book. I found it off-putting that Zoe doesn't know words that have to do with feelings and emotions. I would've been okay if she doesn't know any of those words at all, but she does know some of them, which is hard to believe, because why would she know these and not those? She doesn't know, for example, "sorry," but she knows what "embarrassed" means. Huh? In the society where nobody feels anything, isn't it supposed to be just as likely that she doesn't know both words? And how come does Adrien, the main boy, know them anyway? I don't buy it. While Zoe seems to not know a lot of words, Adrien seems to have a few favorite swear words. And of course, he has to say at least one of those words in every sentence he utters. 17 "shunting"s and its variations, 13 "crackin'"s (mostly crackin' hell), and 13 "godlam'd"s. Whatever they mean. But seriously? Aren't they a bit too overused? Are they supposed to be his signature words or what? It's irritating to have to see them appear over and over again.
In a way, this book reminds me very much of George Orwell's 1984. There are the upper-class men who live luxuriously and tell lies, and there are the lower-class people who believe those lies completely, who serve a purpose in the society, who just don't know any better about anything, who think whatever they have is all there is to life. And then there are rebels who think they can make a change. I regret to say that I find all the characters incredibly flat and I don't even like any of them, but I don't hate them either. Zoe is boring for most of the book, constantly getting into troubles and having to be rescued by Adrien, her prince on a white horse, who seems to be shunting sweet and all but swears too godlam'd much. Did I mention there's a love triangle? Oh yes, there is. Zoe, Adrien, and Max. Now, Max is a friggin' psycho. He's had a crush on Zoe ever since he started glitching, and when he finds out that Zoe is also a glitcher, he's very happy because now he can tell her she's all he's ever thought about (creepy much?), force her to make out with him and ask to see her "genitalia" (he really asks her that) so they can explore "pleasure." Awkward? I thought so too.
Anyway. Despite everything I've said, the book starts becoming a lot more fun later in the second half. And that is why this is another one of the love/hate cases. I can't say anything much about the fun without including spoilers, so I won't. But let me tell you this: this book is a huge troll! One minute it's clear this is the bad guy, that is the good guy; another minute it's reversed, and the next minute there's someone else claiming to be the good guy, and everyone else is the bad guys. WHAT? It's this uncertainty that makes reading it fun. It's extremely action-packed near the end of the book, which is something totally worth reading. I had to hold my breath and I couldn't take my eyes off of the pages. It messed with my head so much, but I had to know! So that night I ended up going to bed at 2 AM or something. It was exhilarating.
In the end, I can say that I definitely don't love this book, but I like it enough. It's true that I struggled with the world-building and mostly everything about the book, but I found the action parts to be such awesome fun. And while everything else just falls short, I can still manage to give this book three stars. It's enjoyable, and surely not something special. Like many other love/hate cases, I can't really say if I would recommend this book for anyone. It was an okay to good read for me.
This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.