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FREE ⚣ Black Glass ⚢ Tally and Grace are teenage sisters living on the outskirts of society, dragged from one no hope town to the next by their fugitive father When an explosion rips their lives apart, they flee separately to the city The girls had always imagined that beyond the remote regions lay another, brighter world glamorous, promising, full of luck But, as each soon discovers, if one arrives broke, homeless, and alone, the city is a dangerous place a place where commerce and surveillance rule, and undocumented people like themselves are confined to life s shady margins Now Tally and Grace must struggle to find each other and survive Tally aged 13 and Grace aged 15 are sisters who are dragged around rural areas by their father Max, who keeps relocating his drug lab until he blows the roof off the house with himself inside Grace thinks Tally was inside, so she is now alone Grace follows their dream of going to the city, hitchhiking to get there Once there, she finds some sympathetic people who help her until she lands a job Tally hitchhikes to the city too, searching for Grace Unfortunately, with the loss of the mobi Tally aged 13 and Grace aged 15 are sisters who are dragged around rural areas by their father Max, who keeps relocating his drug lab until he blows the roof off the house with himself inside Grace thinks Tally was inside, so she is now alone Grace follows their dream of going to the city, hitchhiking to get there Once there, she finds some sympathetic people who help her until she lands a job Tally hitchhikes to the city too, searching for Grace Unfortunately, with the loss of the mobile phone, and no friends or family to fall back on, Tally and Grace live separate lives Grace with her guilt and grief, Tally with her fruitless search whileshe is assimilated into the homeless community, such as it is Documentation is essential for true assimilation into the city, and without this documentation homeless kids like Tally and Grace are at risk of predators posing traditional and non traditional threats to their well being.Milk is a manipulator, working behind the scenes using light, scent and sounds to alter moods Milk prefers to work behind black glass, in anonymity, while he increases casino profits fromgambling This career grows as business and government begin to utilise Milk s skills Other characters are key to the story, both by participating in events and revealing the nature of the society, but I don t want to reveal too much here.The name of the city is never mentioned in Black Glass, to create a sense of everycity just as Willie Loman was everyman Mundell uses Melbourne as her backdrop, because she is writing what she knows to give a sense of place This has enabled her to launch from the present into the future, building a realistic city of the future.At first I focusedon the style of writing, looking for clues to explain the structure of headings with scene location and characters Questions arose for me is Black Glass supposed tobe a government or media record after the fact Is this about survelliance What is going on here So in the beginning I focusedon the style than the content, but it wasn t long before I began to focuson the characters as their stories unfolded After this beginning, I found myself hooked Tally and Grace were vulnerable and skirting the edge of disaster, Milk comesacross like your kind of average nerd working at his job but with consequences , Damon and Luella s interactions had sinister outworkings This was a novel where there were fewactual villains and yet the impact of characters actions could be profound Current issues like the trains and attitudes to race were incorporated well, as was the concept of a global ID net Plot twists surprise the reader as momentum gathers to the climatic ending If you enjoy serious SF, especially dystopian novels, then Black Glass is a highly recommended read Don t forget to read Dark Matter s interview of Meg Mundell in issue 3 Right before bad stuff happens, there s always a little warning, you just have to pay attention Grace aged 15 and Tally aged 13 are sisters, living on the outskirts of society, dragged from one remote place to another by their father Max as he relocates his drug lab But when the house blows up, with Max inside, the girls are separated Grace thinks that Tally was inside so, thinking herself alone, she hitchhikes to the city Travelling to the city was once a shared dream the girls though Right before bad stuff happens, there s always a little warning, you just have to pay attention Grace aged 15 and Tally aged 13 are sisters, living on the outskirts of society, dragged from one remote place to another by their father Max as he relocates his drug lab But when the house blows up, with Max inside, the girls are separated Grace thinks that Tally was inside so, thinking herself alone, she hitchhikes to the city Travelling to the city was once a shared dream the girls thought life would be better there Tally travels to the city as well, in search of Grace But the city is not the welcoming refuge the girls thought it would be.In this near future dystopian world, one needs documentation to live in the city Without documentation, Grace and Tally are restricted to a marginal and dangerous existence Without documentation, they do not exist Without documentation they are vulnerable Everything has a price everyone is under surveillance Grace is focussed on survival, and finds some people willing to help her Tally is trying to find Grace Being secret didn t make a place safe Behind the scenes in this city, a man known as Milk, can manipulate mood using light, scent and sound Milk prefers to work behind black glass, to maintain his anonymity while working his magic to increase casino profits Business and government are also interested in Milk s skills surveillance and manipulation are valuable tools And there s an investigative journalist named Damon who is after a big story.So, where does it end What kind of society have we entered, where a city is divided into zones, and undocumented people are rounded up Will Tally and Grace ever find each other I found this novel unsettling Some elements of this dystopian future are recognisable, other elements all too believable The novel is narrated in a report format which heightens the effect of all pervasive surveillance.I finished the novel, and looked over my shoulder.Jennifer Cameron Smith Black Glass by Meg Mundell definitely met the Australian Women Writers Challenge to read outside my comfort zone Dystopian YA with no guarantee of a happy ending To prove I m no coward I cracked open the book thanks to my local library for getting in a copy and started reading.It was good Vivid writing with sharp landscapes and characters The jagged scene and point of view switches helped to build the mood of a disjointed world.Black Glass is a dream of the future where the only salvation Black Glass by Meg Mundell definitely met the Australian Women Writers Challenge to read outside my comfort zone Dystopian YA with no guarantee of a happy ending To prove I m no coward I cracked open the book thanks to my local library for getting in a copy and started reading.It was good Vivid writing with sharp landscapes and characters The jagged scene and point of view switches helped to build the mood of a disjointed world.Black Glass is a dream of the future where the only salvation is in committing to a relationship People survive within a society structured to destroy them.Maybe it s a theme for all dystopian novels maybe you ve gathered I don t read them much , but I noticed the issue of morality of creating and abiding by something seemed fairly explicit.It was the little points like the difficulty of clean drinking water that made Black Glass so compelling This was an ordinary world with big and little dramas The big ideas drove the story, but it s the details that make you care.The scary thing was how easy it is to see today s Australia in Black Glass Meg Mundell s debut novel Black Glass is the story of two sisters and their search for each other in a city of the not too distant future The black glass of the title is the glass of surveillance Those who inhabit the city s various zones are not only watched but manipulated by technicians who subtly influence behaviour through the use of scents, sounds and lighting at a subliminal level The text includes email exchanges, transcripts of conversations and internet search results, adding to the Meg Mundell s debut novel Black Glass is the story of two sisters and their search for each other in a city of the not too distant future The black glass of the title is the glass of surveillance Those who inhabit the city s various zones are not only watched but manipulated by technicians who subtly influence behaviour through the use of scents, sounds and lighting at a subliminal level The text includes email exchanges, transcripts of conversations and internet search results, adding to the sense that in this brave new world nothing is private The novel is richly detailed, containing brief, beautiful descriptions and surprising metaphors Mundell s dialogue is one of the novel s great strengths witty, pacey and authentic, it positively crackles with energy and renders the characters perfectly.A former journalist and government advisor, Mundell conveys a great deal of cynicism about the relationship between the media and the government At one point, one of the characters reflects on how the media relies on an endless supply of human folly and greed, criminality, bad luck and exploitation And this is exactly what Mundell serves up in her exciting debut a blackly funny, sinister and gritty exploration of marginalisation