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Black Glass

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  35 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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38th out of 56 books — 190 voters
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Community Reviews

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Jenny Schwartz
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
This review forms part of my contribution to theAustralian Women Writers 2013 Reading Challenge. All my 2013 AWWC reviews can be foundhere.

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 li
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
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
(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
Dark Matter
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
Mar 21, 2011 Jenny rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Christopher Ruz
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
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
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
Tsana Dolichva
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
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
Dystopic Melbourne.
Love it.
Try this if you like Orwell's 1984.
Can't wait for more of her work.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Jordana Winchesterdream
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 09, 2013 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.
Duncan Cambray
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.
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.
Sort of soft science fiction. Set in Australia, not too many years ahead, about the powers that be trying to take total control.

That is what I wrote when I read it last year. Makes more sense now, what with the spy bill thing before parliament!
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
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.
An interesting book. I've written my review but I can't upload it yet because the book is under embargo till later this month. It will be at after February 26th.
Black Glass was a compelling read. For me characters are central to a great read & I was not disappointed. Life can be a battle & never more so than in Black Glass. I highly recommend.
A really interesting concept and narrative style. Full review and interview with the author to come for A Thousand Words website. Sign up at
Claire Corbett
I loved this: beautifully written, spare, moving and imaginative. I so enjoyed the portrait of Melbourne, a city I love, despite or even because of the bleaker elements.
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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...
Things I Did for Money Sydney (Lonely Planet Guide) Geek Mook Summer Shorts

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