Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

About a month and a half after I read and adored Across the Universe by Beth Revis, I discovered the synopsis for this other book that sounded fairly similar. I was caught between excitement at something that would be in the same vein and trepidation that after having enjoyed Across the Universe so much, Glow could never live up to my expectations. Then I won a giveaway where Glow was one of the five titles I could choose as my prize. There was never any doubt for me. It was always going to be Glow. As soon as it got here, I looked at the simple yet stunning cover and fell in love with it but had to force myself to ignore it during exam week. It kept looking at me, though, and I knew that as soon as exams were over, I would not be able to resist it anymore!

Title: Glow
Series: Sky Chasers #1
Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Target Audience: YA
Pages: 307
Chapters: Unknown – titled rather than numbered

Story: 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.

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts and impressions: This is another book where I went into it all expecting a teen romance, as the synopsis leads you to believe the story will focus heavily on the romance aspect, but got something very different. This story isn’t about the fight for love; it’s about the fight for survival, the fight to make your own choices and not have another’s choices forced upon you.

Things quickly get around to the action and within one chapter the crew of the New Horizon have set their attack in motion and Kieran finds out that they were never able to conceive children aboard that ship. The girls are separated from the boys and the story gets underway.

We’re soon made aware that the crew of New Horizon are all religious while the people on the Empyrean are mostly atheist. Because of this I thought that the story would tackle the dangers of religious zealotry, and it does but it also takes a good, hard look at the darker side of human nature. Nothing is black and white here: there is no obvious good side confronted by the bad guys.  At some point in her life, Anne Mather, the captain of the New Horizon, became corrupted by her own religious convictions, but at the same time the captain of the Empyrean and his inner circle also because corrupted by their belief in their own importance – the belief that they can take what they want, when they want, which is reflected in the older girls’ stories.

I’m glad that the author looked at both of the sides here and didn’t just point the finger of blame at the manipulation of people through religion to attain your own goals. Although it has to be said that Anne Mather made for a very scary villain due to her manipulative abilities in the name of religion, which we also see in another main character that is currently still a hero. I wonder how the author will tackle this in the sequel.

The story has two parts to it: Kieran’s story and Waverley’s story. On the Empyrean, Kieran is trying to keep the ship running after most of the adults were killed in the initial attack or chased after their kidnapped girls and those remaining were forced to submit themselves to overexposure to radiation in an attempt to save the engines. Both Kieran and Seth, the named potential romantic interests, feature in these chapters. If I’m honest, I didn’t like either of them. I felt that Kieran was lost in his own opinion of himself and his importance whereas Seth was prone to violence and physical bullying to get his own way. I sincerely hope that either one or both of them will undergo significant character growth in the sequel that will allow me to grow to like them.

The other half of the story follows Waverley and the girls on the New Horizon. I found this to be by far the superior of the two plot lines. Everything that Waverley and the girls are submitted to just doesn’t bear thinking. I can’t even begin to imagine how I would react in the same situation. The web of lies and deceit aboard the New Horizon makes for an infinitely more interesting setting and the danger there felt real in a way that was never quite present in the boys’ chapters. I liked Waverley: I liked her spirit, her determination and the way she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

The setting was good and the descriptions of the ships made for a complete and interesting image in my mind. Really they were like glorified prisons. Then again, I suppose any ship is: there’s only so far you can go on a ship – from one end to the other – before you’re forced to go back the way you came. Can you imagine living like that? That has got to be a form of hell.

Style: The author tends to use a lot of subordinate clauses introduced by the prepositions “which” or “who”. Generally speaking, I’m not keen on the over use of these in literature as they make it sound clunky.

Here’s an example: “They entered a new room, which was full of people.” (This is not a direct quote though there is something similar to it early in the book.)

Maybe it’s just me, but I’d much rather have a second sentence about people milling around in this new room than the subordinate clause.

Except for this minor thing, the style is engaging and I really enjoyed it.

Final verdict: This book receives a big thumbs-up from me! I can’t wait to see where the story will go in the sequel. 5 stars


  1. Oooh glad you loved it. I'm reading this soon and this review makes me more anxious to read it!

  2. @Lu I look forward to seeing your review of Glow then! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  3. Um well, it's probably just me, but I HATED this book. Like, 0 stars hate. I thought this book was so flat and lifeless. Nice try, Ms. Ryan, to get into space exploration and whatnot. I didn't buy it. I was bored most of the time. I think Ms. Ryan needed to do some more research to make the entire thing more realistic to me. Especially the whole infertility crisis. Weird and unbelievable. I'm definitely NOT reading Spark. But that's just me.

    Thanks for the review!
    Alyssa Susanna


Hi - thank you for commenting. I love comments. What's more, I'm a big believer in comment karma! :) If you leave a comment, I will do my best to get back to you and leave a comment on your blog in turn (please keep in mind that this may take a few days!).