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Glimpse by Jane Higgins

The city authorities have abandoned the D-Zone as damaged beyond repair. It's a no-go area where ongoing quakes threaten to destroy what is left. But Jonah and Bas and everyone else trying to survive in the devastation there can't leave as they're 'illegal' without citizenship, without rights.

Jonah can 'glimpse', seeing the quakes before they hit. The rare ability attracts the attention of an entertainment company and a cult movement, both desperate to control and cash in on the power.

Author Jane Higgins lives in Christchurch and she draws on her experience of the Canterbury earthquakes in this high-action, compelling youth adult dystopian novel.

It is a fascinating and fast-paced story of conflict and power, manipulation and society, set in a richly imagined world. Her characters are well developed and have a strong sense of self. Jonah, and his partner Evie, are incredibly likeable and relatable. The pair have their flaws, make mistakes, but ultimately are driven by what is right, even when it seems hopeless.

The story arc of Shikha, the local Glimpse Corp scout, was a highlight. She is hopeful and ambitious, and sees the opportunity to make a name for herself when she teams up with Jonah. Higgins' character development is brilliant and subtle.

There are some wonderful themes embedded within the story - grief, self-esteem, hope, loyalty, to name but a few. It's a book that would make for a great classroom exploration, especially when paired with the realities of our world today.

Higgins sets a good pace with the story, drawing readers in with action. Higgins won the Text Prize with her debut novel The Bridge. The same uniqueness and style of that earlier book shines again Glimpse. Too often young adult books are loaded with unrealistic teenage protagonists who get caught up in 'romance'. Higgins instead stays focused on the story, on dystopia, on the politics in an age-appropriate way. Glimpse is another fire cracker from an author who draws inspiration from the real world to tell thrilling stories that will captivate readers.

Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

Text Publishing, RRP $24.00


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