A Face Like Glass – France Hardinge

So regular readers will know that I recently discovered Frances Hardinge as an author, and have waxed lyrical here and here about OMG HOW MUCH I LOVE HER STUFF. So, because I am of the generation that loves to binge (Netflix, carbs, etc etc…) I have been continuing my Frances Hardinge binge!

At least it’s better for me than chocolate.

A Face Like Glass is – you will not be surprised to hear – just as wonderful as the other of her novels I’ve read. To be honest, the only reason I haven’t posted about all the Hardinge works I’ve consumed recently is because I’m trying to give y’all a bit of a break from my obsession (so I’ll just say that Verdigris Deep is also completely excellent and creepy and fanciful and deep and wonderful); but I couldn’t resist posting about A Face Like Glass.

The main reason is this: I adored the central concept of the title and protagonist. The story is set in an underground world, where the people are born with naturally blank expressions. They learn Faces and keep them like masks to bring out as the situation requires; the more fashionable, complex and many Faces you have, the higher your social and political status. The main character, Neverfell, is a girl whose face is expressive – everything she thinks and feels is written across it, whether or not it’s socially appropriate. Those of you who know me IRL will get why I instantly identified with her!

I just love the idea that Hardinge has written a whole novel on this theme. Neverfell’s expressions make it impossible for her to lie properly, and the story is rich with questions and explorations of what it means to lie, versus what is socially appropriate; how a lower social status can restrict your ability to express yourself; how denying someone the right to express anger or dissatisfaction can affect them. It’s a fairytale, like her others – dark, and magical, and delightful and interesting and fanciful – but again, like her others, there’s so much of reality underneath. Themes of social responsibility, honesty, morality, art and its value and many more are abundant and I will one hundred percent be reading this book again.

You can tell I loved it – it’s written all over my face!

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