Friday, September 14, 2012

A Face Like Glass

by Frances Hardinge

Grade: 5 stars
Story: I have made a decision not to write a story summary for this. It's not that I would spoil too much, or anything. It's just that I like to go into Hardinge's books with no clue what's going to happen. Plus a summary of the first bit of the story isn't really going to give you any clue about what the rest of it is like. But here's a couple exclamation points, just to start you off (it's really only the beginning, though): Cheese-making! Revolution! Exodus! Court intrigue! Weird, creepy, kind-of-scientists!

Thoughts: Hardinge is one of the most original Middle Grade writers I've read, and one of the only authors I'll buy on sight, without reading a single review, description--anything. Her world building is utterly unique, not only from all the other authors, but from the rest of her own books as well. In this book, there are the Cartographers, the Facesmiths, the Cheeses and Wines and Perfumes... all of which you'd have no idea about unless you read this book.

The characters, plot, etc. are all great too, though it's the world-building which stands out the most here (unlike her some of her other books, Fly By Night and Twilight Robbery, where the characters of Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent dominate my memory). The plot is full of twists and lies and secrets. The short quote on the back of the books sums it up nicely:

"Child, thief, madman, spy – which speaks the truth and which one lies?"

P.S. I highly suspect I would cave even faster than most people to the lure of the Cartographers. Even though I had the safety-net of reading about them in a book and not being physically present, they almost got me. I half wished Neverfell would drop all her plans and become a Cartographer, just so I could find out more about them and hear them talk.

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