Can you imagine a world where expressions don’t exist? For the people of Caverna, this is existence. Babies in Caverna are taught how to display happiness, and how to display anger. In this expressionless society, having genuine expressions is almost a crime. Into this strange world tumbles Neverfell, a young girl who has a mysterious past unknown to her. All she knows is that she is very different from the people of Caverna, and in a very bad way. She has a face that someone wanted to kill her for. Without knowing it, Neverfell was already a pawn in scandalous plans. One mingle with a famous Facesmith and a powerful vintner had already set these plans off. Little by little, blindly trusting Neverfell becomes entangled in a dark world of lies, secret plans and murder. The more Neverfell discovers, the more she longs for her previous innocence. The people she trusts become her enemies, and the people she loves are in grave danger. Will Neverfell survive in this dark place called Caverna? Who is trying to kill her, and will she ever find out how she arrived?
As I read, ‘A Face Like Glass’, I found myself relating to and understanding Neverfell more and more. Neverfell questions herself and her identity multiple times in the book and, as I read on, I slowly realised that I had begun to do that as well. At first, I was slightly worried about it. Soon, however, I understood that the questions she asked about her surroundings and her identity provided her with answers that helped her grow out of the shell she was living in. It makes Neverfell a better and more fulfilled person. Perhaps Frances Hardinge was reassuring young children that it is normal to question oneself, and that it only contributes to being a better person later in life. I finished the book with a renewed sense of self-understanding, and confidence that this newfound curiosity would only lead to better things.
I love this book for how thought-provoking and imaginative it is! Between the intriguing world of Caverna and the controversial but yet likeable characters, this book gives a reader so much to think about! To think that the concept of forced expressions was entirely created by Frances Hardinge is simply incredible. Within the first few chapters of the book, I had already begun to realise how privileged we are to have the freedom of expression. I almost felt the same pain that Neverfell did to see some of the Caverns deprived of certain Faces. For example, some of the servants and workers were only taught three Faces in their entire lifetime as their “superiors” deemed it unnecessary for them to display either exhaustion or disapproval, as they were poor and supposedly didn’t matter as much. For us, this is a basic right, but reading this made me think about famous situations where people’s expressions and opinions have been suppressed even in our world. I realised that freedom of expression is so important for a society to be equal and fully functioning, because only if we have this will we be able to stand up for ourselves and others.
Frances Hardinge has weaved nothing short of magic into ‘A Face Like Glass’! Read it to find out more 🙂