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Black Glass

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  98 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Tally and Grace are teenage sisters living on the outskirts of society, dragged from one no-hope town to the next by their fugitive father. When an explosion rips their lives apart, they flee separately to the city. The girls had always imagined that beyond the remote regions lay another, brighter world: glamorous, promising, full of luck. But, as each soon discovers, if o ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 26th 2012 by Scribe Publications (first published February 28th 2011)
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Jenny Schwartz
Mar 06, 2012 Jenny Schwartz rated it really liked it
Black Glass by Meg Mundell definitely met the Australian Women Writers Challenge to read outside my comfort zone. Dystopian YA with no guarantee of a happy ending? To prove I’m no coward I cracked open the book (thanks to my local library for getting in a copy ) and started reading.

It was good. Vivid writing with sharp landscapes and characters. The jagged scene and point of view switches helped to build the mood of a disjointed world.

Black Glass is a dream of the future where the only salvation
Annabel Smith
Meg Mundell’s debut novel Black Glass is the story of two sisters and their search for each other in a city of the not-too-distant future. The black glass of the title is the glass of surveillance. Those who inhabit the city’s various zones are not only watched but manipulated by technicians who subtly influence behaviour through the use of scents, sounds and lighting at a subliminal level. The text includes email exchanges, transcripts of conversations and internet search results, adding to the ...more
Mark Webb
Mar 01, 2012 Mark Webb rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aww2013
This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2013 Reading Challenge. All my 2013 AWWC reviews can be found here.

Black Glass by Meg Mundell has been on my reading list for a while. When I was looking through my Kindle to find which book to read next, I picked it more because I've had it for a long time than because it leapt out at me.

And I loved it.

So why did it take so long for me to pick up the book? I try to avoid reading detailed reviews of books on my to-be-read
Julia Tulloh Harper
This is a dystopian novel set in Melbourne. There are so many dystopian stories set in the States or in totally invented worlds, so it was really nice to read something Aussie, that included great descriptions of the drought-infested north of Victoria, as well as the 'casino district' on the Yarra in the city, and the devastation of the Docklands precinct which (unsurprisingly, perhaps) becomes abandoned and derelict.

The main protagonists are two sisters, Tally and Grace, who get separated at t
Tsana Dolichva
Apr 22, 2012 Tsana Dolichva rated it it was amazing
Black Glass, debut novel by Meg Mundell, caught my eye because it was shortlisted for Aurealis Awards in both the SF and YA categories. (And being written by a woman, hence counting towards my SF Aussie Women Writers Challenge also helped.)

The narrative style and presentation of the story and characters is exactly the sort I usually dislike. The scenes, as well as presenting the two most central characters in a reasonably conventional narrative, alternate scenic mood scenes (sometimes with a tem
Christopher Ruz
Apr 17, 2012 Christopher Ruz rated it it was amazing
Black Glass doesn't feel hackneyed, like so much near future work. The story isn't slave to the setting, with events and characters inserted solely to help illuminate a particular place or time. Instead, the story is a symptom of the setting, an organic and believable turn of events that couldn't have happened anywhere else but in Meg Mundell's future-dystopian Melbourne. This is spec-fic as it used to be, where a single fantastic idea or moment can launch a series of stories instead of worn-out ...more
Dark Matter
May 10, 2012 Dark Matter rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Tally (aged 13) and Grace (aged 15) are sisters who are dragged around rural areas by their father Max, who keeps relocating his drug lab until he blows the roof off the house with himself inside. Grace thinks Tally was inside, so she is now alone. Grace follows their dream of going to the city, hitchhiking to get there. Once there, she finds some sympathetic people who help her until she lands a job. Tally hitchhikes to the city too, searching for Grace. Unfortunately, with the loss of the mobi ...more
Apr 24, 2011 Narrelle rated it really liked it
Meg Mundell’s debut novel, Black Glass, is set in a dystopian near-future Melbourne. A friend recently asked me why so many books set in the future were dystopian. Thinking about it, I think that very few books (historical, present or future) are ever set in a Utopia. If everything is happy and perfect, there isn’t a lot of dramatic potential. A spanner has to be thrown in the works to get a story going.

Black Glass has multiple spanners and multiple works, but the two key ones are the lives of T
Lizzy Chandler

Set in a near future, Black Glass is about two teenaged sisters who get separated after the death of their father, and are thrown on their own resources in a strange and sometimes violent city.

While it’s the girls’ story the reader comes to care about, there are a number of secondary characters who appear intermittently throughout the novel, including a 'mood enhancer', Milk, whose job it is to micro-manage the populace through the manipulation of scent, and an investigative journalist. The jou
Feb 19, 2017 Sharon rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, 2017-reads
Just could not get into this at all - abandoned very early.
Jan 04, 2014 Travis rated it really liked it
There's something about the familiarity of Australian fiction I think I find unappealing. With few exceptions, I realized recently I'd avoided the work of local talent. After telling a friend I'd like to acquaint myself better with Australian writers, and knowing I have a predilection for dark and quirky, she suggested Black Glass

Perhaps it's the lack of familiarity I liked so much. The thin veil of dystopian disquiet she's dropped over Melbourne, that while still familiar, is definitely not the
Guy Salvidge
Jun 20, 2013 Guy Salvidge rated it liked it
This is a beautifully written novel and for the most part I enjoyed reading it. Black Glass is set in a future Melbourne and it mainly concerns the exploits of two sisters - Tally and Grace. The sisters independently end up in the city after their father is killed in an explosion. The dystopian aspect is a little weak, I'd have to say. There's talk of Subzones and Interzones but really this seemed like a contemporary setting for the most part. Perhaps this is the intention. Two other major chara ...more
Feb 26, 2011 Donna rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
(Copy of novel was received as part of First Reads.)

When I read books set in my hometown of Melbourne, I often turn into a rubbernecker. 'Ooh, William St', 'Oh, I used to live near St. Georges Road', 'Ha! I've eaten there too!'. I guess this sort of recognition adds to the intimacy of the novel. This was the main reason I decided to read this book.

This novel is set very loosely in Melbourne in some unknown future where the city is divided into Zones and illegals are known as Undocs. There are me
Mar 10, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Liked this, but not all of it, if that makes sense. Sisters Tally and Grace are separated when their father's meth lab explodes, killing him and destroying their rental house. Believing Tally is dead, Grace heads for the city as does Tally, hoping to find her sister.

It's the girls' story that kept me going. The other narratives from journalist Damon and moodie Milk's viewpoints didn't interest me so much (a moodie, by the way, uses sight, sound and odours to control the masses). While Black Gla
Jun 25, 2011 jeniwren rated it really liked it
Set in a not too distant future Melbourne and from the
perspective of two sisters Tally and Grace. Both are on the run after their
father is suddenly killed at the start of the novel. The city is a dark and
dangerous place and where citizens are divided into two groups , those with
identification papers and those on the fringes of society classed as
'undocs' which highlights the marginalisation and it is easy to liken this
to our present refugee situation . The two girls are separated and unsure of
Bronwyn Hegarty
Aug 14, 2016 Bronwyn Hegarty rated it really liked it
Meg Mundell is a skilled and highly original narrator. This dystopian novel about civil unrest in the slight future (I expect) in Melbourne is scaringly realistic. I love her natural style and the use of a series of diary-like entries from each character. She has read the books about how to write active fiction and develop the characters through their dialogue and their actions. The plot is driven by two sisters who are separated by a dramatic turn of events in their family situation. The author ...more
Shel Sammut
Apr 29, 2015 Shel Sammut rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jackie Hatton
Nov 29, 2015 Jackie Hatton rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this near-future tale set in Melbourne, Australia. Two sisters from the country try to find each other again in a city where the poor scrabble for clean water while the rich worry about the smell of their personal environment. I found the story both strangely titilating and genuinely horrifying - a unique portrait of the seedy underbelly of a divided society. I recommend this for all readers of dystopian fiction who enjoy less-familiar settings and a unique voice. Although this ...more
Ugh. I was so excited to read this book and was expecting great things, but it was just bad. As well as boring and uninteresting. I couldn't even finish it, got to about chapter 5 and just put it aside, I have made the decision to write it off my list as I honestly can't be bothered going back to read more.
Plus what capped it is my pet hate in YA novels of having teenaged characters smoking as some sort of plot device. It drives me crazy.
I might read the whole thing one day when my to-read pile
Feb 13, 2012 Liz rated it really liked it
this has some pretty scary, even ghoulish science fiction elements. but the biggest problems facing the protagonists -- finding a job and a place to sleep while confined to the informal economy due to their undocumented status -- are pretty mundane and widely present in our own time. I liked that, it felt really...restrained? realistic? a lot of dystopic works edge into hyperbolic allegory and blunt the sense that a real possible future is represented; this kept it pretty subtle, and thereby att ...more
Mar 16, 2012 Tina rated it it was ok
This book just didn't deliver for me. Given the multiple points of view I was excited to see the stories weave together seamlessly - unfortunately I don't think it did that very well. Character development was lacking and the one meaningful relationship (Tally and Grace) in the book wasn't explored nearly enough. Even though the sisters were apart for the majority of the book, a flashback or two could've saved the portrayal of their relationship. Milk and Damon's plots were left hanging which wa ...more
Jordana Winchesterdream
Feb 18, 2011 Jordana Winchesterdream rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I have to say at first it was a little hard to really get into the book because of the way it was set out like some sort of file but the more I progressed the more I got used to it and became quite engrossed in Tally and Grace's story. I generally love Dystopian books and this wasn't far from the mark, perhaps even better because of the complete plausibility of it, it felt like it is a very possible future for us. Great novel!
Aug 06, 2011 Jen rated it it was ok
Gritty dystopian view of Melbourne, where some are fortunate and others are undocs, with no documents to allow them to live in the city or to have any entitlements. Grace and Tally, two sisters from the rural areas of Victoria, are separated by an accident. They had hoped to escape to live in Melbourne, so after their accident, both travel there in the hope of meeting each other. Events do not allow this however, and they both struggle to survive. A goodish first novel.
Jun 20, 2011 Ursula rated it liked it
Set in a near-future, this debut novel follows the sisters Tally and Grace, who are separated by an accident and from then on have to survive by themselves in the mainly hostile, overly regulated - and alarmingly recognisable - city that Melbourne has become.

Various interesting, often shady characters are introduced as the dialogue-heavy story unfolds, but just as in real life, a few loose ends remain.

A fast-paced, well written read.
Jun 01, 2012 Thoraiya added it
Shelves: abandoned
The writing in this book is...well, it's genius, frankly. It's literary, very literary and exceedingly grim. Recommended for fans of Kim Westwood - I'm putting "Black Glass" down for the same reason I put down "Daughters of Moab," and that is because I don't anticipate being given even a glimmer of hope. The near-future Melbourne depicted here is merciless; for me, too much like life.
Emma Balkin
Mar 20, 2015 Emma Balkin rated it liked it
This book had potential. I enjoyed the beginning but felt that the plot was too splintered and lacked progression. I liked the fact that it was set in Melbourne, but couldn't relate to the description of the location, possibly because it is set in the future. A book set in the future or a colour in the title.
Duncan Cambray
Jan 11, 2013 Duncan Cambray rated it it was amazing
I read this in 2011 and still remember it like it was yesterday. It's an incredibly well-written and thoughtful book - it's hard to believe this is Mundell's first novel. The characters are so well developed and feel real. I still feel like I'm friends with the two sisters. Great book. Can't recommend it highly enough.
Jan 12, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it
I loved Meg Mundell's writing it was "broody and surreal" as one reviewer put it, I thought this book was great although I felt as though you never really got the full picture, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I will definitely be looking out for her next novel.
A Thousand Words Festival
Loved it! Very unusual and thought provoking, and a fascinating take on a dystopian Melbourne. I will be reviewing "Black Glass" and interviewing Meg for our May newsletter which you can sign up for at
Jun 13, 2011 Sue rated it liked it
Unusual perspective - runaway teenage sisters, seperated from each other and trying to survive on the harsh streets of an urban landscape that seems contemporary and familiar but is futuristic and believable.
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Born in NZ and based in Melbourne, Meg writes short stories, novels, journalism and memoir. Her first novel is BLACK GLASS (Scribe, 2011), and her new collection of short stories is THINGS I DID FOR MONEY (Scribe, 2013).

Meg's writing has appeared in Best Australian Stories, New Australian Stories, Australian Book Review, The Age, The Monthly, Meanjin, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Big
More about Meg Mundell...

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