Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review of
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Thursday, October 6, 2011
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. (Publisher's Summary from Goodreads)

When I was approached by Sarah at St. Martin's Press about Glow I was immediately drawn to her passionate description of the book's merits and the rave reviews from other bloggers. Since I love dystopian novels, I was intrigued, especially with science fiction aspect of the book.

Glow is unlike any dystopian novel I have read! It grabs you, spins you around, and keeps the adrenaline pumping non-stop. The plot and setting are the strongest aspects of the novel and definitely what make it unique among the plethora of YA dystopia currently on hand. Not only are many questions raised and explored about leadership, religion, and reproductive rights, these issues are all central to the conflict for all the characters and especially the protagonists. The setting also plays an important role in the story's conflicts with the action taking place on two separate ships whose missions were to recolonized a nearly extinct Earth. Unfortunately,  one ship, the New Horizon,  has failed to produce children and their Captain and religious leader blames the Empyrean. 

Ryan carefully sets the main conflict up quickly in the first few chapters and subtly foreshadows things to come. When the New Horizon successfully steal all the female children aboard the Empyrean killing many adults including the ship's captain, Kieran and Waverly, the novel's protagonists are thrust into leadership roles and separately fight for their survival as well as the survival of those around them. Through their alternating points of view the reader experiences Kieran and Waverly struggles and watch as their individual ordeals strip them both of their innocence. By the end, each are transformed and their transformations leave the reader anticipating and predicting how things will play out in a second book.

Although I found Glow unique and exciting, I did have some ambiguity towards Kieran and Waverly. Part of the uncertainty stemmed in part from the relationship Ryan puts in place early on. I also never felt truly connected emotionally to either character. However, I was still able to appreciate and even admire Ryan’s characterization of them separately and in the end began to appreciate and even understand their individual changes.

Glow more than holds its own as a novel that brings together all of the elements I enjoy in a dystopian read. It provides suspense and sustains tension between characters throughout, and the ending left me anxious to see where the story will take me next.  

Source: Received copy for review from St Martin's Press


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