Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review: Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis

Release Date: April 17, 2012
(Thanks to ATWT for letting me participate in this tour!)
Published by: Balzer + Bray

Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis

What if you forgot your identity and had to rely on other people to tell you who you were?

And what if to discover your true self, you first had to unravel a mystery so big and terrifying you were not sure you’d survive solving it?

When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future. 

Terrified by their amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find the answers that could jog their missing memories. As they piece together clues, they discover they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls, where everyone seems mysteriously happy, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden shame in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of high school. 

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marsh and Elyse fall into an intense relationship...but the secrets they uncover could be the death of this growing love—and the death of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.

To be honest, I can't give a full review of this book simply because I can't think of ten different categories to judge it on, though that doesn't mean it was bad. I actually really enjoyed it.

For one, the protagonists Marshall and Elyse are the kind of characters you want to root for. At first, it's mostly because of their situation. Talk about awkward. Not remembering anything from the night before and waking up naked in a stranger's arms?  But as you read past that first scene, more and more layers unravel of their characters and their pasts and the people they are now, the people who narrate the story to you... and I liked them. I liked seeing the dichotomy between now and then. Even better? Something happens later in the book that was absolutely excellent in terms of character development; thank you, thank you Kitanidis for creating characters who are not perfect. Characters who make gigantic mistakes (that don't detract from the plot) because they are vulnerable. These protagonists are so flawed (and self-critical) that they feel like real characters.

In the beginning the romance kind of bothered me because it was going a little too fast, and only because of how vulnerable they were, not completely because of who they were, but it grew on me. The information you discover later further explains this in a satisfactory way. Plus, Marshall and Elyse work really well together and feel like a real couple - they have issues but it's not the fact that Marshall has Dark Eyes (Elyse dubs him Dark Eyed Boy for a good deal of the book) that brings them together. It's them and the way their new (and old) identities mesh well together. (Though you can clearly see that their new identities mesh better than their old, which I also thought was well done and in align with the character development).

Also?  Creepy, creepy town.  Yes, the premise tells you what the town is about, but reading how this works was a complete delight. Kitanidis fully realizes the potential in this concept and the "happy zombies" line has never been more accurate. Even better is the basis for the town, learning how everything became the way it is. Underlying Glimmer is a concept I haven't seen explored much so three cheers for Kitanidis! Furthermore, the writing was fluid and easy to read, making the pacing that much more quick (because this is a fast-paced thrill ride of a novel).

Only complaint I have has to do with the cliche characters in Summer Falls. I would've liked to see more of them developed. I know that this story has to do more with Elyse and Marshall's struggle to regain their memory in this creepy ass town, but still Elyse's mother, Marshall's father, Elyse's best friend, Dan her jock boy friend--yes, in a sense I understand that the characters can't really mature because their bad memories are erased; I understand that that degrades from their development, but I still felt unconnected to all of those characters. So when Elyse and Marshall do their thing (vague to avoid spoilers), I didn't care what the outcome would be. I did care about Elyse and Marshall but not for the town; I pitied the people in the town, and that was it.

Kitanidis isn't afraid to make her protagonists struggle. Combine this with the creepy town, the fast pacing, and the inability to predict what exactly came next (the characters hide stuff from each other, and Kitanidis plays the alternating perspectives to its fullest advantage), and you've got an excellent thriller. Be sure to check out Glimmer on April 17.

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