Review: The Glass Town game

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The Glass Town GameThe Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“If dying really meant anything, then it wasn’t a game at all. It was just life.”

I’ll admit that I had a hard time getting into Glass Town until about one third of the book, although I will mainly blame it on not having much time to read in a row – this is a book that must be devoured in great quantities without distractions, rather than sipped a few pages at a time.

The writing, as is usual with Valente, is phenomenal, the descriptions luscious, and if there is some reluctance in stepping into the shoes and made-up world of four historical persons, it quickly gives way to the wonders of their imagination, and the inescapable and heart-wrenching knowledge that they cannot escape the character that history has already written for them.
The last quarter of the book is particularly evocative and touching, with several great quotable lines and paragraphs like the one above.

I am somehow confused by some of the other reviewers, who think that the language is too sophisticated, and the references too literary for a child in the intended reading range to pick up on – and at the same time, that adults that might pick up on these will be turned away by the fantastical and whimsical elements of the story. First of all, all of Cat’s books for children are full of whimsy and rich language and literacy references, and that’s usually presented as the main selling point rather than a disadvantage. Second, they’re seriously underestimating children, especially children who like reading, as they will willingly peruse from the ‘adult’ and ‘literary’ sections of the library as long as they are not forced to.

My advice is that this is a book for people who anyone who had a loss; for anyone who made up their own fantasy world as a child and never forgot about it; and for all those who know that bright and whimsical doesn’t mean it cannot hide great truths.

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