I’d like to be able to say that this is one for those readers seeking a solid dystopian YA with strong sci-fi elements, but in truth, this Glitch is not that book. At best it’s an on-trend, marketable novel aimed at fans of Matched and the like. At worst, it’s a formulaic, cliché-riddled book I feel like I’ve read several times before.
While the premise of a community hooked up to a shared network that essentially rids them of individual emotional and thought seems promising, the inconsistencies in the writing are too glaring to overlook. Glitch is ostensibly about a teenage girl who finds herself “glitching”, that is, experiencing anomalous (good lord, but I am sick of that word) events in which she involuntarily disconnects from the Link and begins to experience emotional responses and develop telekinesis.
What’s problematic about this is that Zoe’s first person present tense narration doesn’t seem consistent with her circumstances. She is apparently able to recognise and process some emotions without a thought, while experiencing dramatic reactions to others. The Link gives her little exposure to colour, yet she is able to describe in detail in the shades of aquamarine in her love-interest’s eyes. Given that Zoe has lived her entire life tethered to the Link, I didn’t find her voice realistically rendered. Anastasiu seems to use Zoe’s lack of experience with emotion and individual thought when necessary for dramatic effect, then ignore it at other times.
Despite the potential in the concept of dawning emotional intelligence in a programmed and controlled world, Glitch rapidly resorts to tired romantic tropes and flimsy plot devices to progress the story. Very little feels organically developed, but rather, convenient or forced. Character X just happens to show up at a certain place, and just happens to have X device and X ability.
However, the most difficult to swallow of these revelations is the “love” that springs up between the characters. I don’t know about you, but when I’m removed from my home into an alien environment by a stranger, suffer a violent allergic reaction, then spend a few hours unconscious – upon waking the last thing on my mind would be gazing into said stranger’s eyes and kissing him. When I don’t know what kissing is. Or who this stranger really is. Even if he has indeed seen in a vision that I will lead The Resistance (of which I also have no prior knowledge) in uprising because I am special with super special powers (of course). But what do I know. Love conquers all, apparently.
Seriously, these kind of “Instant! Just add water for True Love” romances feel like lazy storytelling to me. Compounding the issue is the appearance of another “glitcher” and rival for Zoe’s affections. This character feels slightly more realistically rendered in terms of his reaction to physical/emotional impulses. Character discovers sex = character wants to have sex, fair enough. But while his actions are believable, there’s a slightly squicky subtext to Zoe’s responses. Realistic or not, this element of the plot felt poorly handled and lacked the nuance and considered treatment it required.
What Anastasiu does well is write graphic, tense scenes of action and violence. An event that takes places on a train, wherein the full power of Zoe’s ability manifests, is gripping and vividly depicted. What baffles me then, is that given Anastasiu’s capability to portray violent death and exploding rats, why the ridiculous cuss words? Adrien’s repeated use of expressions like “crackin’” “shuntin’” and “godlam’d” do little else but pull the reader out of the story unnecessarily and make them cringe. They are awkward snags in the flow of the dialogue and the irritation doesn’t lessen with repeated use. If the intention was to highlight the difference between those in the Community and the Resistance, I found it unsuccessful. However, I did laugh a lot whenever Adrian made an exclamation along the lines of “We’re all shuntin’ cracked!” I don’t think that was the intention.
Although there are some good ideas in Glitch’s premise, it fails to deliver on its potential. The result feels, honestly, underdeveloped and poorly executed. I can’t help but feel that a sound concept went to waste here, which is a real shame.
An ARC of Glitch was received for review from Netgalley
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*Commences attack on Netgalley backlog*