Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Glow

by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 307
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: September 13, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, science fiction, dystopia, romance

First in the Sky Chasers series. From Goodreads:
"What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

{ I received this book for free as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. }

I was a little skeptical of the lines on the back cover claiming that Glow starts "the most riveting series since the Hunger Games." Those sorts of hooks always rub me the wrong way - I know it's to draw readers in, but I can't help feeling like it's a sneaky sales pitch. Like if they have to say it, it's probably not true. So I started Glow a little hesitantly... but wow. This book is definitely the start of something big. Glow is equally as captivating and emotional and addictive as the Hunger Games books, but in its own unique dystopic world with its own powerful messages.

The synopsis covers about the first quarter of the book. Everything is laid out nicely: we're introduced to Waverly and Kieran, the perfect couple, or so everyone thinks; to Seth, and the "what if"s in Waverly's mind about him; to the Empyrean and how they all came to be aboard it; and to the impending threat from the New Horizon. And then the attack comes. All the girls are taken aboard the New Horizon, leaving the boys behind on the Empyrean, and the adults are incapacitated or lost. It's up to the children and teens to find a way to reunite, and to survive.

 Are you hooked yet? Because by this point in the book, I couldn't put it down.

The action is non-stop. The narration shifts from Waverly on the New Horizon to Kieran on the Empyrean, following them both as they struggle to set things right, and to try to figure out what "right" is. There are a lot of mature situations they have to deal with.(SPOILER - highlight to read: For example, Waverly and other older girls have their eggs harvested by the crew on the New Horizon without their consent, which in Waverly's eyes is akin to rape, and now countless women on the New Horizon are pregnant with their babies. Kieran tries to take power on the Empyrean in the absence of the captain, but he is overthrown and basically tortured until he agrees to confess his crimes. These are serious issues for teenagers to be dealing with, while they're simultaneously adjusting to the sudden absence or death of their parents.) It's a discussion of ethics while in survival mode. What is right and wrong? Who becomes the leader and who becomes the follower? How much do you take before you stand up for yourself, and what lengths do you go to to fight for what you think is right?

Unexpectedly, religion is discussed as well. The New Horizon is more faith-based than the Empyrean; the leader of the New Horizon is not called "captain," she is called "pastor." But, as things begin to change and power begins to shift on the Empyrean, religion begins to play a larger role there as well. And then, at the end, everything turns on its head, and what you thought you knew about who was good and who was not, and what was right and what was wrong, all gets mixed up until you're just as conflicted as the characters themselves. (SPOILER - highlight to read: Oh my God. Waverly coming back to the Empyrean after escaping Anne Mather's cult (essentially), thinking she's home and safe, only to find that Kieran is on the path to becoming the next Anne Mather? Heartbreaking. Devastating.)

Glow is a beautiful, powerful, tragic book that covers a whole range of emotions and issues. It makes you think, it makes you feel, and it makes you tear through the pages at lightning speed to find out what happens next. I'm completely hooked on this series and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book, Spark

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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