Bad Glass has a great premise, especially if you are a fan of “what if” science fiction. The science here is physics, or perhaps metaphysics. We never find out. But weird things are happening in Spokane, WA. The military has separated the phenomena into 4 categories: things that appear that should not be there, things that disappear that should be there, voices/noises that have no apparent origin and “all else”. Most fall into the “all else” category; especially the human body parts that meld into inanimate materials, or that become part of other bodies.
The problem for me in reading this book was that I just could not like any of the characters. Dean Walker is a fifth year college student who cashes his last tuition check from his dad takes and off with his camera to cross the border into a quarantined Spokane in order to get unique pictures that he hopes will make his name as a photographer. His “unthinkable” alternative is to graduate and return home to a job in his family firm. In no time at all, he is in tight with a bunch of other young people. Most are there because they are looking for family members who were there when the quarantine went into effect. One, Amanda, is looking for her dog, which sort of figures into what happens to her. I wanted to like Taylor, who helps others, but none of the characters let you, the reader, in on what they are really feeling or what they are about.
Lots of things happen. Lots of interesting things happen. But they do not go anywhere, nor do they connect. I kept reading, as I wanted to know what was happening to Spokane. The “official” line was that there was a huge bloom of psychoactive fungi along the Spokane River that was affecting the minds of the people within its borders. However by the end, Dean’s pictures are leaked to the outside world by a sympathetic military person and they have an impact on the public at large. (“Bad Glass” is actually a photography term, alluding to a lens that isn’t clear). But did this really happen? We don’t know, as Dean had earlier witnessed the (gruesome) death of this person. The reader is led to believe that the city is absorbing the characters. This doesn't seem to be a metaphor.
This book is compared to Samuel Delanely’s Dhalgren in a cover blurb, but the only thing Bad Glass has in common with that book is a young man entering a strange city. I would recommend skimming this book, just for all the ideas that it might stimulate other budding author’s minds.
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