The Glitch by Elisabeth Cohen

May 01, 2018

Shelley Stone might be a little overwhelmed. She runs the company Conch, the manufacturer of a small wearable device that attaches to the user's ear and whispers helpful advice and prompts. She's married with two small children, Nova and Blazer, both of whom are learning Mandarin. She employs a cook, a nanny, a driver, and an assistant, she sets an alarm for 2AM conference calls, and occasionally takes a standing nap while waiting in line when she's really exhausted. Shelley takes Dramamine so she can work in the car; allows herself ten almonds when hungry; swallows Ativan to stave off the panic attacks; and makes notes in her day planner to "practice being happy and relatable." But when Shelley meets a young woman named Shelley Stone who has the exact same scar on her shoulder, Shelley has to wonder: Is some sort of corporate espionage afoot? Has she discovered a hole in the space-time continuum? Or is she finally buckling under all the pressure? 

Introducing one of the most memorable and singular characters in recent fiction, The Glitch is a completely original, brainy, laugh-out-loud story of work, marriage, and motherhood for our times. (synopsis from Goodreads)

To be clear, 'laugh-out-loud funny' is the last thing I'd use to describe this novel. My choice would be terrifying

I do not want to live in this world where you wear a small device behind your ear that knows too much. Where a mother and father LOSE their daughter (heart palpitations for the first 20 minutes of the book) because they are both so INVOLVED with their phones/jobs that they can't be bothered to HANG UP. And don't even get me started on our main character. A woman who's guilty pleasure is eye contact and thinks a man's long jointed toes are erotic. (Shivers are undulating down my spine.) 

Accrediting her success to being struck by lightning 2o years ago, Shelley is more robot than human and not in a sci-fi way. Most of these characters are robots. I'm getting flashbacks of Stepford Wives, but for the corporate world, anyone else? And it. is. terrifying. But, perhaps, the reason it's SO awfully scary for me is because I am also a mega über Type A creature and I can see myself as a terrible robot who cares nothing for human things and becomes so absorbed with my own obsessions that I forget the important things like my own child? 

I feel you're taking this the wrong way and you truly think this novel is about robots. It's not. Because, even Bicentennial Man had more emotions than Shelley. 

Back to my self-realization that I'm a propitious cyborg. 

I was so angry and fed-up with Shelley throughout the entire book, but especially when she continues her work call as she notices her four year old is missing and coaches herself so she can have a successful phone call AS HER CHILD IS LITERALLY MISSING. Being inside Shelley's head for 354 pages was incredibly tedious, but I can't deny our similarities. (Although, my child is literally numero uno in my brain and yes, it is exhausting.) Her unrelenting competitiveness, single-minded drive for whatever she wants, being a high achiever, having incredibly high standards for offspring, etc are traits I suffer from. But, I admit, I hate the insufferable Shelly Stone. (And I'm not the only one. She's unlikable and she knows it.)

Through Cohen's writing, you are inside Shelley's brain, just like that infernal Conch and her overwhelming sinus issues. Kudos Elisabeth for being brave enough to jump inside and bring to life my worst nightmare; a villain fitting for this day and age of technology. Also, this book is not what you think it is. It constantly keeps you guessing in a very mundane  and calculated way, because how else could Shelley make her brain work?

I cannot rate this book as I have no idea how to rate a contemporary, mystery, kidnapping, tech ridden, terrifying novel, but suffice it to say, Cohen has created a monster that other people think is 'laugh out loud funny' and I can respect that. 

The Glitch will out in May 2018. Thank you to Doubleday for the ARC! 

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