By Frances Hardinge
Published May 9th 2017
Rating Four/Five Leafs
I like my reviews to be little leaflets of information about the book, a list of things to be prepared for so you can get to reading. I also want reading to be an experience so at the end I’ll list some things I think would pair well with this book.
Synopsis from Goodreads In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except 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 express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a 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. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed…
I really liked this book! It read like something Tim Burton would do well. Tim Burton with a kindly-voiced British woman narrating the movie sort of like Nanny McPhee? That’s the only thing I can think of as an example right now. Does that make any sense? Probably not. Oh well! This book was quirky and delicate and creepy.
What To Expect
Middle Grade Novel
Middle Grade is fiction that is aimed at children roughly between the ages of eight and twelve. However, this doesn’t make it exclusively for readers of that age. Middle Grade books often are very effective at social commentary because the voice of a character so young can produce a shocking honesty of everyday practices that older characters wouldn’t even think to question. This book explored issues like vulnerability and trust, inequality in society, and education. I’ve seen this book described as if Alice (of Alice in Wonderland) fell down the rabbit hole and then had to fight her way out.
My favorite Middle Grade novels are usually the ones that can charm me with the character’s relationship development. A Face Like Glass is no exception. The relationships Neverfell develops with the other characters come about because of her magnetic honesty. Although everyone, including Neverfell herself, sees her as mad and naive, she has the clearest outlook on the world which eventually wins people to her.
The city of Caverna is so special because it makes these luxury items that are just this side of magic. There are perfumes that can manipulate you to attack your closest friend, wines that can erase your dearest memory, and cheeses that can cause you to see visions of the future. Caverna is described as it’s own character, with tunnels that twist and defy gravity–sometimes maliciously. She, Caverna, is desperate to keep her people and Neverfell is dangerous to her because she disrupts the system. There are facesmiths that charge people for different expressions and there is a Grand Steward that rules Caverna differently with each side of his brain so that he never has to sleep fully. Although there are a lot of different elements that might be confusing, the reader is never lost.
“Nobody’s mind ever remains a blank page, however carefully they are locked away from the world.” – Frances Hardinge A Face Like Glass.
I feel like the movie Coraline matches the tone of this book well. It also had themes of accepting the strangeness of who you are and using your “flaws” that are actually unique strengths to conquer the adults haha not really but conquer the badies!
Let’s Chat! Do you like reading Middle Grade? If so, which is your favorite and why?