Glimmer is one of those books that I almost don’t want to talk about at all for fear of giving something vital away. The appeal of this book lies in the not knowing, the postulating of theories, the slow unraveling of the truth behind the strangeness. And strangeness this book has in spades. When I first heard of Glimmer, I have to admit my hopes were high for something along the lines of a young adult version of Twin Peaks.
If you’re not sure what that is, go Wikipedia it now. In fact, here’s the link right HERE.
Don’t worry. I’ll wait.
You back? Awesome. Moving on.
So where were we? Ah yes, Twin Peaks. Did it meet my expectations? Well, the creepiness is perhaps a bit more overt in Glimmer and the plots of either story are really nothing alike, but it definitely shares that enticing “so-picturesque-but-just-enough-‘off’-that-you-know-beneath-the-surface-something-is-terribly-horribly-wrong” vibe. The town of Summer Falls, CO is idyllic; everyone’s happy, none of the residents seem plagued by any kind of trouble. Yet, the perfection belies the darkness that holds the town together. The patchy memories, the vagueness in people’s eyes, the malevolent ghosts that roam the town, the fact that such a happy village has it’s very own, dedicated mental healthcare facility? Clearly, not everything is oh-so-perfect in this quaint, little tourist trap of a town. It’s a deliciously unsettling atmosphere that Kitanidis builds around the town of Summer Falls, and one that pervades the entire storyline. As Elyse and Marshall begin to uncover the answers to the mysteries that surround them, I wouldn’t say things get any less weird, but rather more clear.
So much of this story is wrapped up in discovering identity – Elyse and Marshall’s search for who they are. In light of that, I’m not going to do my typical character profiles. That would definitely ruin it, but I do want to say something about the characters, so I’ll try to be as vague as possible in what follows.
Both Elyse and Marshall wake up knowing life’s little basics – the sky is blue, they go to school, they have families, they have personal preferences that make them unique. They just don’t have any information of their own to fill in those blanks. As they both begin to discover the people they were, they in turn learn more about who they currently are, and who they wish to become. Their loss of memory is both a blessing and a curse – a disconcerting loss of self, but also a second chance to realign their present and, possibly, their futures.
The characters, as a whole, are very well done. Both Elyse and Marshall are people I connected with; their plight being a very sympathetic one. Kitanidis’s cast of secondary characters that make up the residents of Summer Falls were also interesting, alternately pitiable, quirky, horrifying or plain old creepy. Though some of them might not get a lot of page time, Kitanidis gives even her minor characters a marked individuality.
I tend to like books that are more character focused, and while Glimmer does satisfy that preference, it actually hits a good balance between being both plot-centric and character driven. The mystery is well done, compelling, and kept me guessing through most of the book. Though I did have several minor issues with the story, that I cannot reveal here for obvious reasons, I found both the characters and the story to be enjoyable. I actually read this book in a single evening, because I had to know what was really going on.
Overall. Mirroring its plot line, on the surface Glimmer is a wonderfully creepy mystery about the darkness overshadowing a strange, little Colorado town. But if you look deeper, underneath the mystery and the paranormal trappings, it’s also a very human story about self-discovery, second chances, renewed perspectives, and the choices that define who a person truly is.
* Recommended for Upper YA readers.