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Glow by Ned Beauman
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Glow (2014)

by Ned Beauman

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Showing 5 of 5
A novel about psychedelic paranoia told by an insomniac drug addict who embodies Big Lebowskian slacker dude-ism just didn’t do it for me. Sure, there’s something to be said about Glow's roughshod whimsy and manic imagery (yay, foxes!), but I couldn't get into it. I felt like the designated driver at the bar on New Year's Eve: everyone's tipsiness around you makes your own sobriety seem depressing. I’m sure there’s a complexity here that would blow my mind if I just stuck with it, but when everything is dialed up and skewed, the novelty just wore off. The various encomiums to drug chemistry were interesting though. ( )
  gendeg | Jun 26, 2016 |
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: From one of England's most accomplished young writers: a taut, riveting, compulsively readable novel in which a young man (with a bizarre sleep disorder) uncovers the connections between foxes behaving oddly in London, Burmese people going missing, and glow, the newest recreational drug.

South London, May 2010: twenty-two-year-old Raf spends his days looking after Rose, a bull terrier who guards the transmitters for a pirate radio station, and his nights at raves in dingy warehouses and launderettes, where he first hears about the mysterious glow. When a good friend disappears without a trace, Raf's efforts to find him will lead gradually and then suddenly right into the thick of a massive corporate conspiracy. And along the way, he falls in love with a stunningly beautiful young woman, only to discover that there is far more to Cherish than meets the eye. Combining the pace, drama, and explosive plot twists of a thriller with his trademark intellectual, linguistic, and comedic pyrotechnics, Glow is Ned Beauman's most compelling and virtuosic novel yet.

My Review: ...and it heals warts when you dance widdershins around it by the light of the quarter moon!

I know book publicists face an uphill battle for the public's attention (read:money), but the breathless promises of ecstatic visions and orgasmic writhings in these things is a dead turn-off. There is no plot twist, even one I didn't see coming, that's explosive. Terrorist bombings are explosive. Let's not wear the horror of the word off in such a banal context.

Anyway. That said, I had a ball reading this book. I like Beauman's sly, side-eye humor, and I appreciate his regular inclusion of gay people with no muss, no fuss, no bother about it. I think his penchant for 20-something guys with superduper rare and strange conditions as main characters should've run its course with this book's Raf who has...CPA? FRS? LLC?...hell, who cares, something that makes his sleep patterns different than anyone else's on the planet. Unlike poor Fishy in Boxer, Beetle, there's no outward sign of Raf's peculiarity, and honestly I was a bit impatient about it recrudescing in conversation so often. But the ending made every bit of it okay. The FIRST ending, I mean, not the second and mostly Schadenfreude-inducing ending which left me chortling for a half-hour after I finished the book.

The whirling, rising, dipping, spinning trip in the middle (looks like I'm not so innocent of using the hyperbole I was complaining about) of the tale never once left me thinking, "okay, I can stop here." I had to make myself stop at time-stamps, or Day changes. I might not have a job, but there's still stuff I have to do that precludes holding a book. I've learned from bitter experience that angling your head for a view of an open book during a make-out session causes hurt feelings and requires many sappy protestations of adoration, etc etc etc. Men, interestingly enough, are *more* likely to feel slighted than women are.

Never let it be said that anyone came away from my blog without some newly acquired knowledge.

But back to Ned Beauman. His books are uniformly enjoyable reads. His hobbyhorses are ridden in different ways each time. But I had to slice a star off for the guys-with-orphan-diseases trope. Mr. Beauman is 30 now. I hope very much we've seen the last of that mosquito-bite-irritating bit of character building. Mind you, I'll be buying his next book the instant I can. I feel confident that it won't be badly used money. It hasn't been yet. ( )
1 vote richardderus | Mar 27, 2016 |
Glow by Ned Beauman is a recommended global conspiracy novel that encompasses the recreational drug subculture, foxes, and Burmese immigrants.

Twenty-two year old Raf spots Cherish at a rave in south London and is instantly attracted to her. "When he first sees her, Raf is sitting on a washing machine about to swallow an eighth of a gram of what is apparently a mixture of speed, monosodium glutamate, and an experimental social anxiety disorder medication for dogs." At the rave while exchanging/discussing various recreational drugs available, he hears about the new drug, glow, for the first time.
“When is there going to be good ecstasy again?” Raf says.
“Maybe never,” says Isaac. “We need to get hold of some glow.”
“What’s that?”
“You know, that new stuff. Barky said it was the best thing he’d ever taken. Ever in his whole life.”

Between his longing for the half-Burmese Cherish and wanting to explore how the new drug glow could potentially help him with his sleep disorder, Raf's inquiries begin when he is trying to find information about the kidnapping of his friend, Theo. Apparently a silent white van grabbed him off the street - and these same vans are kidnapping all the Burmese people they see. Everything begins to tie into the multinational Lacebark corporation. And what is it with all the foxes Raf is suddenly seeing everywhere?

Glow is a novel that taps into the current generation of teens/twenty somethings with the raves and recreational/experimental drug usage. Beauman captures the slacker scene and interweaves the present day with the backstory of various characters, corporate activities, and the chemical composition of various drugs, while searching for glow. While it is definitely well written with some great descriptions, and I admittedly basically found it entertaining, and humorous in parts, I also think the target audience for Glow is (much) younger than this reviewer. I wanted to tell the "kids" to stop the random drug usage.

Previously published in the UK, this review is for the USA release.


Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday for review purposes. ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Interesting thriller with lots of neurochemistry. Characters weren't particularly interesting and it was too short, but there is a cute dog. ( )
  collingsruth | Aug 16, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this weird druggy, sleepy, book. I will read more Ned Beauman. Glow reminded me of Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, though I can't say how or why. {Pre-publication review copy via Nook download. Thank you.} ( )
  ReneeGKC | Jun 13, 2014 |
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Als Raf haar voor het eerst ziet, zit hij op een wasmachine en staat hij op het punt een achtste gram te slikken van iets wat een mengsel schijnt te zijn van speed, mononatriumglutamaat en een experimenteel medicijn tegen sociale fobie bij honden.
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"From one of England's most accomplished young writers: a taut, riveting, compulsively readable novel in which a young man (with a bizarre sleep disorder) uncovers the connections between foxes behaving oddly in London, Burmese people going missing, and glow, the newest recreational drug. South London, May 2010: twenty-two-year-old Raf spends his days looking after Rose, a bull terrier who guards the transmitters for a pirate radio station, and his nights at raves in dingy warehouses and launderettes, where he first hears about the mysterious glow. When a good friend disappears without a trace, Raf's efforts to find him will lead gradually and then suddenly right into the thick of a massive corporate conspiracy. And along the way, he falls in love with a stunningly beautiful young woman, only to discover that there is far more to Cherish than meets the eye. Combining the pace, drama, and explosive plot twists of a thriller with his trademark intellectual, linguistic, and comedic pyrotechnics, Glow is Ned Beauman's most compelling and virtuosic novel yet"--… (more)

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