Petri Quinn knows demanding the future now is a nonsensical request, but she appears to be the only one bothered by the chant at the student demo. And she’d rather be part of something than excluded, again. She’s the youngest in her peer group so she’s still impatiently awaiting her neural implant. As soon as she turns sixteen she too will become connected.
Glaze is the ultimate social network. It allows people to connect and access information with the twitch of an eye. It binds them together, making for a happier and safer society. Petri’s mum Zizi is one of the brains behind the technology, along with Max White, owner of WhiteInc. The pair don’t always see eye-to-eye on how best to develop Glaze, and judging by the current hostility between them, right now they are having a pretty major disagreement. But, we’re left in no doubt, right from the start of this amazing story, that something is very wrong indeed.
I thought Glaze was brilliant. We’re thrown into the action and the characters from the very beginning. Petri is smart but isolated. She has one decent friend, and a huge crush on the school’s most popular boy, Ryan McManus. Her relationship with her mother is not easy. Zizi’s earnest views about a fair society sit uneasily alongside her place on the board of a vast multinational corporation. She irritates the life out of Petri, unsurprisingly, and for an ostensibly progressive parent she shares far less with her daughter than she could. Still, luckily for us that means we get to plunge deep into a dark rabbit hole of social control and personal responsibility along with Petri.
Petri’s life starts to spiral into a world far removed from her comfortable, safe existence. The more she learns about Glaze, and about her father figure Max, the more sinister things become. She stumbles into an underground anti-Glaze group and sees what it’s like to live beyond the monitored places. One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the book was that Petri is dealing with all this major revelation stuff, but she’s also going through normal growing up things, like learning about yourself and first kisses. I loved that she was still able to keep pretty focused on the major problems; the cute boy may well be distracting but there are bigger issues to deal with.
Glaze feels almost too close to the possible to be comfortable. The idea of passively accepting increasingly invasive technology and the potential for it to be used as social engineering ought to be a concern for everyone in an increasingly connected world. Curran draws out how much we love feeling connected with people we identify with, whilst highlighting how this can be manipulated into altering behaviour. Do we really want our free will played with in this way?
I loved Glaze. It’s exciting and tautly written. I wanted to keep reading to the end, because there was no point at which I felt I could just leave it there for a while. It is YA, but I don’t think I was actually conscious of that whilst I was reading – which makes it a pretty excellent crossover title into adult fiction too. Glaze is good. You should read it.
I was extremely fortunate to get an advance copy of the book; my huge thanks to the author. Glaze is available now as an eBook. Hopefully a paperback will be available soon.