The Glass Republic is the sequel to The City's Son and therefore this review may contain spolers for the first book (which you really should read).
Pen’s a survivor. Returning to school, she dreads showing her scarred face among her classmates and them finding out about her and Salt. Her best friend Beth isn’t around much anymore either; what Fil wished for her is transforming her into a daughter of the city. Then Pen sees her reflection in the school bathroom, the other her who she has come to call a friend, and she’s in trouble. She must find a way to get beyond the mirrors and find Parva before it’s too late.
Oh poor Pen. My heart breaks for her in the opening chapters. As if she didn’t have enough to go through in The City’s Son, she has the horror of high school with a scarred face. But before you start writing that hate mail to Tom, this is a book to rescue Pen; I’m not sure anything else but what happens in this story would have done it, but by gods, it does.
London-Under-Glass is the city created by our reflections, with the Mirrorstocracy created out of the infinite reflections of a person caught between two mirrors. But as well as the upper ruling class, there are the half-faced, created out of fragments of reflections. And the half-faced are perfectly symmetrical. This means that their perception of beauty is also a mirror to ours. Instead of symmetry being the pinnacle of beauty, it makes them ugly. Imperfections are beautiful.
So as well as being a creative and fantastical adventure in the mirror world, it also cleverly explores self-image, class systems and the ridiculousness of celebrity. If you can’t gaze upon your own face, should you base your self-worth on how others see you? Pen’s own experiences in our world are reflected and turn upside down in the experiences of those who are shunned in London-Under-Glass. It’s always good to see things from the other side.
Meanwhile, Beth takes the backseat a little but her world is changing too. Their stories cross over and tangle together…and the end of the book will have you reaching for your time machine.
The Glass Republic is published by Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Quercus, and is available to buy now in hardback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.