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London, 2041 — society is divided into the Pures and the Crazies. The Crazies are predisposed to mental illness based on their genetic make-up. The Pures are said to be healthy and must protect themselves to build a stronger race of humanity, devoid of mental illness. Then there’s Ana. This 17-year-old is no ordinary Pure. She should have been diagnosed a Crazy based on her DNA test but something went wrong. Now Ana faces the threat of expulsion from the safe haven of the Community. The only way she can stay beyond her 18th birthday is if she joins with Jasper Taurell who truly is a Pure.
In a near future, society is segregated according to whether people are genetically disposed to mental illness. 17-year-old Ana has been living the privileged life of a Pure due to an error in her DNA test. When the authorities find out, she faces banishment from her safe Community, a fate only thwarted by the fact that she has already been promised to Pure-boy Jasper Taurell.
Jasper is from a rich and influential family and despite Ana’s condition, wants to be with her. The authorities grant Ana a tentative reprieve. If she is joined to Jasper before her 18th birthday, she may stay in the Community until her illness manifests. But if Jasper changes his mind, she will be cast out among the Crazies. As Ana’s joining ceremony and her birthday loom closer, she dares to hope she will be saved from the horror of the City and live a ‘normal’ life. But then Jasper disappears.
Led to believe Jasper has been taken by a strange sect the authorities will not intefere with, Ana sneaks out of her well-guarded Community to find him herself. Her search takes her through the underbelly of society, and as she delves deeper into the mystery of Jasper’s abduction she uncovers some devastating truths that destroy everything she has grown up to believe.
Ana is afraid of being driven out into the City. She is afraid of the life she would lead on the other side of society. She holds out for Jasper to make good on his pledge to her. Several times their joining have been postponed already. With her birthday looming, this is her last chance to stay. Jasper stays true to her and shows up for the ceremony but then he disappears.
Without Jasper Ana is doomed. More than that, she does care for Jasper. She had a crush on him even before she was too young to be joined. When nobody seems to be doing anything to save Jasper, Ana takes matters into her own hands. If his captors are from this fringe group the authorities do not interfere with, then there is no way out for him. In her quest to save him, she makes discoveries that could shatter everything she has been raised to believe in.
Ana to me was a believable character. There was no pretension of noble motives in attempting to save Jasper, especially when their relationship became delicate in his captivity. While Ana set out for Jasper, she also set out for herself. I appreciated that a lot. Also, she had the maturity of an older teen, knowing how to handle secrets, yet portraying her still lesser developed moods, as expected of a teenager.
I thought it interesting that Ana was put in a position of intense scrutiny to prove that she was not inferior to the Pures. She had honed her act to face intense psychological examinations, under the tutelage of her father. As much as she resented having to appear perfect, she continued to appease the authorities with her control in order to remain in the Community. All these years she had been fed the notion that any display of heightened emotions point to possible mental instability. Since her father had developed the study of DNA for hereditary mental illnesses, she trusted fully in the established system. Once in the City though, she recognizes that the Crazies might not be as dangerous as she had come to believe. At the same time, their treatments (or lack thereof) were not preventing four-year-olds from attempting to commit suicide. This set her off in a pursuit for the truth and she took me right along with her as I read the pages of the book.
During her time in the City, Ana meets Cole and his two siblings. She forges a friendship with his sister and a slow romance ensues between Ana and Cole. As much as the characters became predictable, the plot did not suffer as a result. In the end, I found myself sympathizing with the Crazies precisely because of the injustice they experienced.
Furthermore, medicalization of “abnormality” is an increasing phenomenon. This coupled with the fear of contracting medical conditions that constantly emerge, it is no wonder that a healthy person would want to protect themselves. Discrimination is one extreme answer. Shun the sick person. Realistically, we have to admit to ourselves that we might be nursing slight prejudices against people who are not like us and people we don’t understand. A person with a bipolar disorder might at least make us uncomfortable. It is also indisputable that on occasion, mental instability might lead to an infliction of harm on the self or others around. “The Glimpse” however magnifies and reflects a supposed solution to the problem, then shows the very dire consequences.