The Glitch in Sleep (Seems Trilogy) by John Hulme and Michael Wexler
|The Glitch in Sleep (Seems Trilogy) by John Hulme and Michael Wexler|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A young lad has to put the world to rights when mass insomnia hits, in this successfully wacky and inventive teen read. The world of The Seems, which controls ours, is probably going to make a very enjoyable trilogy, of which this is the first recommended volume.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2008|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
|External links: Author's website|
So, who do you put the blame for the weather on? God, or another deity? Science? It certainly isn't John Kettley any more. No, I am sure, having read this book, that it is entirely down to the Department of Weather. Indeed, as our hero, the awkwardly named Becker Drane, finds out, everything in our world is controlled by everything in another existence – The Seems. All our weather, luck, love, sleep – all is sent our way by the ministrations of departments of unknown number in the world of The Seems. Having looked after an unscheduled drought, Becker has a much bigger task facing him as his first 'grown-up' job, that of the titular gremlin.
The eleven year old has many problems, and so did I with the book initially. The now-too-familiar disclaimer at the beginning, that this is fact but will be denied by those secret powers really in the know, is too awkwardly styled. Too many characters come at us with foreign language, or certificate 12A language, or technical terms, or American slangisms. But beyond the slightly unappetising feel this brings is a much better read, and one a whole lot more worth enthusing over.
After the Americanisms comes a successfully global look at just what the glitch might result in, and the charmingly poetic circumstances are just not what we normally get in youth genre reads like this – they're a lot subtler, and stand out. Similarly when the baddy that will obviously become a main recurring character in this trilogy enters things unexpectedly, his philosophy, questions and reasons are again far superior to what other writers settle for. It really adds a mature, and very welcome, level to the book.
The stand-out factor of the world of The Seems, however, comes across in the writing, too, for this is a land of any and every old adage and phrase, writ utterly literally. In the Seems, there is a Hard Place you wouldn't want to go to, and yes, there's a Rock nearby. Bed Bugs are there in their wickedness, and you shouldn't be surprised to learn they are large buggy things that design nightmares. Tooth Fairies are minor characters – when they have passed the degree that allows them to hold the job down.
You can't count the instances of this, but the craft of the book is evident in how many have been thought of, and yet they are never too much and unwelcome. There are a couple of quirks I found a lot less successful – the footnotes, use of the 25 hour clock, and weapons (all with their requisite superscripted TradeMark sign) are a bit cheaper.
The subsidiary characters are all good, the descriptions basic and reasonable. They certainly add to the drive of the narrative in their simplicity, and the energy of the book flows right to the dramatic finale. Which appears to be far too early. What comes afterwards is a return to the poetic sensibilities, and I can only put it down as some kind of Mitch Albom influence, which is very nice indeed. Much more welcome than the appendices, which appear to do nothing more than plug the website for the books.
There are a few minor awkwardnesses in between the surprises, but on the whole a delightful discovery to be made here. They might have caught me on a good day when I decided on four and a half stars however. As the language would make me a little unsure of giving the book to an under-ten, I am not too sure this book would have a very long lifespan on anyone's shelf. Depending on the pace of the sequels' arrival, I can't imagine this volume itself has a great deal of re-readability. But the successful wackiness and quirks do outweigh any faults by far, and the plotting allows for an enjoyable, and easily recommendable book.
I am very grateful for Bloomsbury for sending the Bookbag a review copy.
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Sophie Lambe said:
I've only just started reading The Glitch In Sleep (in fact I'm on page 15) And it's one of the best books EVER! I'm really excited to find out what happens next.