Author: Margot Harrison
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
The protagonist, Hedda is a sixteen year old girl who is going back to normal civilization after living off the grid with her mother for the past ten years. Hedda has been living without any cell phones, computers, tablets or screens of any kind. Her mother explains when she was six she became terrified of screens after too much time playing video games. When Hedda arrives in California to spend time with her father, step-mother, and younger step-brother she feels in control. Hedda reconnects with old friends and starts public school. Hedda discovers that the Glare is a first-person shooter game from the dark web which is the game that terrified her when she was a child. The game has thirteen levels and if a player dies on the thirteenth level then the person dies in real life. Hedda and many of her friends start to play the game reaching the thirteenth level and failing to go any further. Strange things start to happen. Can Hedda figure out how to stop the deaths from occurring?
Margot Harrison is a Harvard graduate and a native of New York City. Harrison is the Associate Editor for a Vermont media company called Seven Days. She won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association. You can follow her blog at https://margotharrison.com/blog/.
Thriller, Suspense, Science Fiction
14 years and up
Critical Book Review:
Hedda is a young adult having to overcome a fear she does not quite understand. She understands she was afraid of “the Glare” when she was six but she is not fully aware what “the Glare” is. To her it is anything that has a screen such as a computer, tablet, or phone. Her mother moved her out to the desert to get away from any technological component. Hedda has been homeschooled and living on a farm since she was six years old. Now, her mother has been called to help a friend in Australia and is sending Hedda to California to live with her father for a few months. Hedda’s mother has warned Hedda of the dangers of screen time and cautions her to be careful around technology.
When Hedda arrives in California she is determined to prove to her father she has the ability to overcome any childhood fears of “the Glare” and have a semblance of a normal life. Hedda reconnects with old childhood friends while convincing her father to allow her to attend a public school for the first time. During this time Hedda will stumble upon a video game called the Glare. Hedda quickly becomes addicted while playing the game. When she reaches the thirteenth level her video game character dies and Hedda starts receiving strange messages on her phone. When researching the web Hedda realizes a warning which states if you play the Glare and die during the thirteenth level you die in real life.
Hedda is not the only one in school playing the Glare. Students start to die after they die in the video game. Hedda must find a way to stay alive and find a way to keep the others alive as well. Hedda starts out on a quest to find the server the game must have originated from. Hedda needs to destroy the server in hopes to remain alive as well as her friends. This intense thriller keeps the reader on edge trying to guess how or if Hedda will be able to stop who is behind the game.
Speed Book Talk:
If you enjoy Jumanji and playing video games you will enjoy The Glare. Who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of beating a game? When that game becomes a reality, how can one find ways to beat it? Or are you doomed to have the virtual reality become real?
Creative Use for Library Program:
Teen night would hold a video game contest. The winner receives a prize such as a GameStop card. Teens have the chance to discuss which video game is most popular and the best at the moment.
Potential Challenge Issues & Defense Preparation:
Hedda appears to reunite with her childhood friends rather quickly and adapts to the technological world fairly fast. It would seem Hedda should have a longer adaption period especially since she has been homeschooled, no friends except her farm animals, and the only contact for ten years has been her mother with the exception of her father from time to time. One would believe the step-mother and step-brother would be more uncomfortable around her since they have never met her either. Hedda seems to be a focused character and does not want her father thinking she is mentally unable to return to normal life so there is a reason why the character would appear to be able to adapt quicker than usual. Hedda wouldn’t want to not have the opportunity at a normal life if given the chance.
Reason for Inclusion:
This is a new thriller. Teens always appear to be on a tablet, computer, or phone nowadays instead of focusing on anything else. This book always the idea that not everything is safe when dealing with the web. Even though games cannot kill you there are other predators to be aware of. It gives teens pause to consider if everything they have their hands are is safe.
Harrison, M. (2014). About Me. Retrieved from https://margotharrison.com/about-me/