Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Book Description from the ARC:

ARC, 307 pages
September 27, 2011, St. Martin’s Griffin

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.
Source: Sarah from Macmillan USA (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

In Glow, two ships were traversing a nebula; both were headed to the New World. They had the same mission but the leaders and the culture of the ships were very different. The Empyrean, headed by Captain Jones, was prosperous and had succeeded in overcoming their problems with fertility. Men from Captain Jones’ circle were powerful and some of them took advantage of it. The other ship, New Horizon, was headed by Anne Mather, a religious leader. They have failed in overcoming their own issues with fertility but everything else that they had was better than what Empyrean had. Glow had many similarities with Across the Universe. It focused on the survival of the human race, too. But the Captain of the ship was more open, more transparent and more honest in Glow. The control on the people was not like a vise.

About the characters, I found myself more in tune with Waverly than with Kieran. She was taken against her will, forced to obey and forced to stay silent. But within her, she was brave, bold and extremely loyal. Throughout her stay in New Horizon, she resisted Anne Mather’s charm and thought for herself instead of just swallowing the woman’s lies. I liked the strength and resilience that she showed. Meanwhile, Kieran was left behind at the Empyrean. He tried to lead the devastated boys to do what should be done. He tried his best but it was clear that he wasn’t ready to be the acting Captain yet when all the adults died. He was a bit arrogant and bossy but there was a soft side to him that constantly worried about his parents and longed for Waverly. His situation was made worse by Seth, one of the boys, was giving him a hard time. Seth was the most intriguing of them all. Like Kieran, he had a soft spot for Waverly but on the outside, he was hard, cold and harsh. In the beginning, I liked him for Waverly, but as the story progressed, I found myself hating him. The characters were quite unpredictable as all of them dealt with their problems and acted on their beliefs. They were all flawed and I loved how realistic they seemed.

New Horizon supposedly was a ship of faith, peace and prosperity. Anne Mather, the ship leader and called Pastor of the ship, had a very useful charm. Her words gave strength to the people of New Horizon. They waited, listened and held on to them. They never questioned her. I was amazed with how much control Anne Mather had on them. But like any leader, all she wanted was to serve the people, to ensure their safety and survival until they reach the New World. Her past and her struggles were interesting and added color and complexity to the story.

The religious aspect of Glow surprised me. I never imagined that there would be one. But I have to say that it worked. I was convinced with the devotion of the people and their willingness to believe in the vision. But Glow showed that something so pure, so good could become distorted and ugly when seen through a twisted perspective.

One of the constants in Glow was the thrill and suspense. It was pulse-pounding, indeed! The action, the risk, the kept secrets and the complications, wrapped in a current of violence, created an effective combination. I couldn’t stop reading. I recommend this to dystopian readers!



  1. I'm not a huge sci-fi or dystopian fan but I've seen some good reviews for this one that made me put it on my wishlist. I love it when books have complex characters. I had no idea that this one had a religious aspect but it seems well done from the way you mentioned it. Great review!

    P.S. Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

  2. Great review. I'm looking forward to this one!

  3. Ok now I really have to get a hold of this one! I didn't know it had a religious aspect too!

    Krazzyme @Young Readers

  4. Whoohoo. Another dystopian to add to my list. Lovely review :)

  5. Fantastic review! You have definitely convinced me I need to pick up a copy of this. I've read some mixed opinions, but from what you've written, I am so intrigued by this. The different themes presented and I also like the unpredictability of the characters too. Plus, I'm loving those spaceship type reads!

  6. I can't wait to read this one! I love the cover and I'm glad that the religious part of the book worked. Thanks for the review!

  7. i think i'll add this to my dystopia list. the cover sure pulls you in.