The Glittering World by Robert Levy (4 out of 5)
Another book I received from Wendy at Simon & Schuster. (Thank you, Wendy, for sending me everything I email you about!). I liked the premise of it when I was reading the monthly newsletter, but even more obviously, I loved that cover. Look at it. It’s gorgeous. Look at it. Again.
Ok. Now that the obligatory fawning over the cover has passed; time to get to the review. I enjoyed this book, first and foremost, because of the format of the writing. Each of the friends has a part of the book to tell their story. I LOVE books like that, because I don’t often encounter books like that. I also loved the entire storyline. And Robert Levy, I wait for your next book with eager anticipation. (It’s going up on the recommends when the copies I ordered come in). I really thought this was going to be some redux of something I’ve seen on a show on the Sy-Fy channel or an imitation of a Ishiguro novel dancing with some Dean Koontz in the night. No, it’s completely original in its thought and execution. And in this day of books being written that sound alarmingly like other books previously written, what a cool splash of water this novel was.
Michael “Blue” Whitley is the “hot” chef on the rise in New York. He goes back to his hometown, in a rural Canadian community, with his three friends. A getaway, or a chance to recapture a potentially scarring experience, though? When he was younger, Blue and another kid went missing in the spooky Starling Cove, for weeks. Blue reappeared, and his mother took him and fled to America, leaving what happened behind. Blue doesn’t remember this, and not only does it frustrate him, but his sense of whom he really is becomes seriously challenged as a result. What happened to him? What happened to the other child? Why is it a secret, seemingly kept from him until he’s an adult and a success in his own right? Questions abound. And that’s where the friends come in. Blue’s three closest friends in his life; Elisa (NOT a Frozen character, but of course, that’s what I envisioned as I read it. Stupid movie!), who was his right-hand accomplice in all things, her loyal husband Jason, and Gabe, who works with Blue now and is a friend who may have feelings for Blue underneath that steadfast friendly loyalty, work with Blue to try to find out what happened back then. They don’t go through this process unscathed, as their own secretive pasts and current demons are brought to the surface while trying to unravel whatever Blue encountered back then in Starling Cove, and the indigenous people living on that lonely little island who still inhabit it in the current time (Levy calls them “The Other Kind”, and oh boy, is that an appropriate moniker). Things take on a higher level of importance when Blue and Elisa suddenly disappear while trying to figure out what the hell went down. The book then takes on more of a narrative from the viewpoint of Gabe, who clearly has a love of Blue that goes beyond normal friendship. All of these friends get a shot at telling their story- the book is divided up into four sections. I can’t tell you how important that is to the execution of the plot. I will tell you that once Blue and Elisa are done with their side of things, their voices aren’t heard from as far as the telling of the story- THAT did bother me. In fact, it’s probably the thing that tipped it from 5 stars to 4 stars. I felt like there should be more from the main character and his comrade, but instead, it shifts focus to Gabe and Jason sorting out the puzzle pieces that are left without the presence of Blue and Elisa..which, again, given the twists and turns of the plot, suit fine. I’m just a sucker for a great character, and I immediately connected with Blue. Oh well. I could bitch about it endlessly, but I can’t because the setup, the execution, and the aftermath, well, what a damn fabulous book. No joke.
I’ve seen this compared (on the book and on reviews) to Neil Gaiman, Scott Smith, and Jason Mott. Well, Neil Gaiman is in his whole category, or in this case, a Starling Cove of his own making. Scott Smith’s titles scared the crap out of me. Jason Mott, I didn’t read, and have no intention of doing so. I cannot compare this to any of those authors. I can say that it really reminded me of Kazuo Ishiguro with some Dean Koontz and maybe a dash of Margaret Atwood. It did NOT scare the living bejesus out of me because I was too busy trying to figure out all of the twists and turns. And they are not roller-coaster twists and turns, they are well thought out and plotted literary twists and turns. I love those so much more than the fantasy horror types (as referenced by the Scott Smith analogy), so feeds my hesitation in comparing it to those authors. The supernatural aspect reminded me a ton of the Dean Koontz books I have read, and as we know, I’m a big fan of Dean Koontz, so that’s where my happy switch was flipped. I liked that this was an intelligent read, as opposed to “jump out of your skin” chills. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s just not my bag. So yes, if you want to read something with a lot more thought bending and building block puzzles behind the eventual destination, this is the book to read. I seriously cannot wait to recommend it to anyone who wants a book that is not at all like anything I have read in a long, long time. Well done, Robert Levy, well done.