Book Review of A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Children’s
Release Date: May 10th2012
Genre: Young Adult-Fantasy
Description from Goodreads: In Caverna, lies are an art — and everyone’s an artist . . .
In the underground city of Caverna the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare — wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear — at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell’s emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed …
Review: Read-along with the lovely Jessie over at Ageless Pages Reviews!
Nothing can prepare you for the richness and complexity of this story. I cannot even begin to compare this book with another book, because A Face Like Glass shreds apart all the formulas and every banal storyline and does whatever the hell it wants.
I have to take a moment to completely fan-gasm over the entire setting. The description and the adjective haven ripped the reader right out of their seat and tossed them into a vivid and dangerous world that rides on the edge of overwhelming and hyper sensual.
Something like this. Only in words. Many many words.
The plot was also wickedly twisted. Expect to fall down the rabbit hole when you delve into this novel. A relevant component of the book consisted of tampered memories and constant confusion for the characters AND the audience. Only a handful of the events could easily be guessed. The remaining elements were often warped to the point that I added the phrase “This book is EVERYWHERE” in my status update. Nothing is set in stone, and Hardinge often toys with the reader and leads them towards one speculation after another until you give up and just enjoy the ride, no matter where it takes you.
Neverfell, our feisty and often reckless main character, injected a certain touch of humanity into the storyline. Her screwy back story and her own fight for the truth and the knowledge of her world did not just tug at your heartstrings. Instead, the emotional complexity of the entire book tended to rip out your heart and shove it right into your face. Neverfell’s own naivety towards a harsh, cruel world set out to destroy her bought into question about the reader’s own constitution and the ability to survive. Loyalty and trust are subjects that are often discussed and mentioned in literature. A Face Like Glass dissects the very definition of a truehearted character and brings into question the line between someone with a true heart and someone who is sadly just gullible, setting up their own fate to become a pawn and a plaything for people with power and an agenda. Neverfell’s own unyielding resolution was borderline painful and often very heartbreaking. It was refreshing and very unexpected that Hardinge allowed her audience to be the judge on the entire subject. Some people might find Neverfell as an inspiration while others might interpret her character as a victim of her own ignorance.
Finally, the entire cast in this book was nothing short of magic. I can’t even pick out my favorite among the entire range of players in this novel. I fell in love with so many of them. I hurt with them. I was angry when they were angry. If I was forced to pick out the most worthy individuals from the book, I would have to point out the Grand Stewart and Grandible. (Did anyone get a LotR vibe from the Grand Stewart? Anyone?)
Theoden, you ARE the father.
Overall, A Face Like Glasswon me over for the original and completely refreshing storyline and world building. If you are looking for a book that ventures outside your everyday semi-predicable book, then I would highly recommend that you pick this up immediately.
Buy A Face Like Glass from Amazon (currently, the physical forms of the book can only be purchased from individual sellers).