Review: Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

Shattering Glass is a YA book following the transformation of Simon Glass, an unpopular, fat, clumsy student. When a new kid named Rob comes to the school, he decides to make it his big project to turn Glass into someone popular. Rob’s plan works more than well, and soon Glass displays an independent (and dark) streak that wasn’t part of Rob’s plan. I won’t give away the ending, but it gets dark in a creepy way!

My overall assessment: A great book for high school students and reluctant readers, especially teenage boys.

Negatives first: This is a YA book, so it didn’t have all the twists and turns and nuances of a fully-developed adult novel. It took me a while to “get” the main character. At first the protagonist’s voice sounded generic (I didn’t realize right away that the protag was a boy!) It wasn’t until I learned a detail about his past that his voice really started standing out. Then, he became real to me. Still, I teach high school, and I could see lots of my students enjoying this book. The plot was not cliche (oh, definitely not!), but it was easy enough to follow.

Now, the positives: It was a compelling read. What I enjoyed most the structure of the novel. Each chapter begins with a quote from various minor characters in the novel. These quotes allude to the novel’s ending, so at first they don’t make a lot of sense except to add some creepy foreshadowing. As the chapters progress, the reader puts together clues from these opening quotes to infer how the novel will end–and it’s a grim ending. Because of this extensive foreshadowing, the novel takes on a dark aura, and the reader is compelled to turn the pages. The chapters are short, and each opening quote gives readers just enough clues to convince them to keep reading. I finished the book in two sittings. I will definitely recommend the book to my high school students.

From a writer’s point of view, the book is a great lesson in pacing and point of view. Giles did a great job in choosing which details to include and when to include them. The result is a dark, suspenseful page-turner. If you want insight into the darker side of high school, this book is worth your time.

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