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Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite
In A Gleaming Shard of Glass by Sowon Kim, life in Nepenthe seems to be almost perfect. There is no homelessness, everyone works in a job they love for which they have a real talent. However, when something seems too good to be true, there is surely a downside to it. In the case of Nepenthe, it is a rather dark downside. Children have to undergo a test twice a year to prove whether they are useful enough to society. The children or teenagers who fail the test are sent to prison and are no longer seen as human beings. They are only 'creatures'. Grecia, the story's heroine, is 14 years old when the unimaginable happens: she fails the test even though she is one of the best in her field. She has one chance to avoid her prison sentence, but it means that she needs to go into the wilds and leave Nepenthe forever. After fleeing, Grecia meets others like her, and life becomes much more challenging than before. Will she ever see her mother again and will she find out the truth behind the test?
I was amazed when I discovered that Sowon Kim, the author of A Gleaming Shard of Glass, was just 15 years old. While I wrote at that age as well, I certainly did not create something anywhere near as intriguing. While reading the book, I always assumed the author would be older. Much of the plot can be connected to the darker side of human society and the way some countries seem to be going - where critical thought about the country, even if it's valid, brands you as a traitor. I found the story to be entertaining and thought-provoking. Authors rarely surprise me, but in this case, I was a bit mad at the conclusion as I didn't expect the book to end the way it did. Although the ending made sense, it was a shocker. It also left room for a sequel and I'd love to read it. It would be pretty interesting to see what impact the climax would have on the society involved and the various characters in it.