Paranormal Young Adult
Balzer + Bray
Available April 17th
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (From Goodreads)
When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.
Terrified by their amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find the answers that could jog their missing memories. As they piece together clues, they discover they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls, where everyone seems mysteriously happy, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden shame in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of high school.
Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marsh and Elyse fall into an intense relationship...but the secrets they uncover could be the death of this growing love—and the death of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.
Reading Glimmer is a bit like staring at a beautiful landscape through a dirty window–there’s a filmy layer in between us and what we’re trying to see that prevents us from doing anything more than simply gazing at indistinct shapes no matter how much we try to discern the minute details that make the landscape worth looking at in the first place. While our confusion and inability to fully grasp what's happening to Elyse and Marshall is clearly intentional and made more bearable due to our shared disorientation, the fact that we’re stumbling through a strange town with nothing but our bewilderment for companionship detaches us from the events a bit, and we never quite find our bearings enough to really settle in and surround ourselves with the story itself.
Both Elyse and Marshall are solid protagonists, individuals we immediately feel protective of as they wake up in the most vulnerable way possible: completely naked with their memories wiped clean. We can’t help but share in their sense of purpose, wanting to understand what could have robbed them of their memories and how that single event links into the townspeoples’ strange predilection for taking “heatnaps” . Elyse is perhaps the more fascinating of the two–her past as we uncover it far darker and grittier than Marshall’s, every new painful memory revealed one we want to absorb into ourselves to keep it from tainting Elyse’s clean slate. We realize as she does, however, that the darkness of those images is an intrinsic part of who she is, and we certainly don’t want to be responsible for robbing Elyse of any information regarding her life when so much has already been taken from her.
While Elyse and Marshall are intriguing characters and it’s genuinely enjoyable to spend time split between their two perspectives as they attempt to make sense of the bizarreness that is Summer Falls, the story itself is a jumble of fascinating elements moving so quickly we can’t quite get a bead on any of them. Each piece of the puzzle is given a bit of page time, but we never get a chance to peel back the story’s veneer to see what interesting details and information the less polished underbelly could provide us. We touch on amnesia, ghosts, occultists, wilderness spirits, missing persons, insane asylums, and something called the “Institute” that’s mentioned only in passing, and though Ms. Kitanidis does connect all the dots by the end, we are still left with a lot of questions regarding the actual journey to our final destination. We understand logically how we made it to the concluding pages, but like the residents of Summer Falls, our minds seem to have operated more like sieves than steel traps while reading, and somewhere during the course of this tale vital information has seeped through holes we didn’t know where there to leave us feeling incomplete rather than fully satisfied.