- The Glare by Margot Harrison
Harrison, Margot The Glare. Little, 2020 [336p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781368005654 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781368014830 $9.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12
After ten years living off the grid on an isolated ranch with her technophobic mother, sixteen-year-old Hedda is returning to the Bay Area to live with her software developer father and his new family. Once there, she quickly picks up with childhood friends, and she also hesitantly picks up technology, fearful that she'll lose herself like she supposedly did as a child. Soon, though, Hedda and her friends are hooked on The Glare, a horror game hidden on the Dark Web, and playing brings back memories of childhood trauma she's repressed. Suddenly the horrors of the game begin intruding on reality, and when people start dying, Hedda is left struggling to determine what's real until she's finally forced to confront her own secret past with the game. Harrison deftly blends techno-suspense with urban legends for a thrilling page-turner with risks both high stakes and personal. Hedda's narrative voice brings the rising paranoia and nightmare delusions in close, assisting the rising body count in creating a sense of urgency that will keep readers on the edge. Isolating technologies, meanwhile, are balanced by strong human connections, as Hedda builds supportive relationships with her mom, stepmom, and friends new and old. Techno-savvy readers may scoff at depictions of mind-warping code and the Dark Web, but the novel depicts the oppressively pervasive nature of digital culture without making it the enemy. Ramped-up tension gives way to a nail-biting final showdown and neatly wrapped resolution, suitable for readers who like their techno-scares tempered by human sweetness.