Monday, 17 October 2011

Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Glow (Sky Chasers #1) by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Released: October 7th 2011
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on 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.

Glow is the most riveting series debut since The Hunger Games, and promises to thrill and challenge readers of all ages.
(from Goodreads)

Waverly and Kieran are two teenagers of the new generation, born and raised in space. Growing up, it was always expected that Waverly and Kieran would be together, and now they’re older, Kieran is ready to move on to the next stage of their relationship – engagement. It’s a cause for celebration – until everything goes wrong. Having lived upon the Empyrean their entire lives, none of the new generation have ever seen a stranger before. That is until the New Horizon, the ship that launched a full year before the Empyrean, the ship with fertility problems, makes contact. Suddenly everything is in chaos; the girls from the Empyrean have been taken and are on course to board the New Horizon, while the boys are left behind, trying to avoid a meltdown. With no adults available to help, Kieran is expected to lead the remaining members of the Empyrean – but gaining the support of the boys is proving very difficult. Waverly, the oldest of the girls, is instructed to reassure the younger ones that everyone is safe aboard the New Horizon – but Waverly senses something sinister about her new shipmates, and is determined to escape, whatever the cost.

Glow really surprised me – in a good way. I wasn’t expecting it to be so dark, but there were a lot of serious issues involved, especially about fertility and pregnancy, and there was definitely an eerie vibe to it that I felt from the beginning of the book, before anything really bad had even taken place. The plot was heading in a darker, more ominous direction with every page and there were certain scenes in Waverly’s sections that were hard to take in. I was constantly alert, always expecting something horrible around the corner – just like Waverly, I never knew who to trust or what would happen if I trusted the wrong person. The scariest thing was that the villains of the story seemed normal at first. Their cause seemed justified...until you found out what they were really up to. I think “compelling” is the perfect word to describe Glow, because the only time I put it down was to reflect on how awfully some of the characters had been treated.

Glow was told from alternating viewpoints – sections from Waverly’s POV and sections from Kieran’s. I think this added to the eerie vibe because whenever something intense or scary was about to happen in one point of view, it switched, leaving us wondering what could be happening to the characters in the other. Though I enjoyed both viewpoints, I think I preferred Waverly’s, because I liked her character more. She didn’t seem so at first, but she was really strong-willed and stubborn and refused to believe anything anyone on the New Horizon told her without seeing it was true for herself. She stood up for herself and her friends and I like how she didn’t change her actions or beliefs for anyone (boyfriend and best friend included) or blindly follow people just so she didn’t have to do anything herself. She was definitely brave for doing the things she did. I've seen a lot of people say they didn’t really like the ending of Glow, but it was actually one of my favourite parts because we got to see the effect being on the New Horizon had on Waverly, and how she had begun to view some things differently. I liked the way that she was determined to make sure everyone was protected from the influence of the New Horizon – even if that meant going someone she loved.

Kieran was quite an odd character for me. He was clearly a nice, genuine person that cared about everyone’s wellbeing, but for me, he was almost too nice. And being nice all the time doesn’t get things done. I don’t think he was an effective leader – he was the “golden boy”, as his rival Seth referred to him, always getting special treatment from the Captain and the elders, and I just think he was more of a lackey than anything else. He carried out orders, but was no good at working things out for himself, which can be seen when he tried to take over the ship after the girls were taken. He was very naive, rarely seeing the dark side of anything even if it was right in front of him, and I didn’t agree with his way of thinking at all – especially towards the end, where he was knowingly deceiving (though he would think of it as helping) people. I’m actually glad Waverly questioned him on it, because he needed to know that people didn’t deserve to be mistreated or judged just because they disagreed with him. I just think in general, Kieran didn’t have much personality, in my opinion, and I just couldn’t connect to him.

Seth, on the other hand, was a much more interesting character. Not necessarily the greatest of people (you’d just have to look at a few of the things he did to realise he was a pretty harsh guy), but I could understand where all his anger was coming from. He was never treated fairly by his father, who I thought was a despicable person, yet he still loved his dad despite all of it. The only girl he liked, Waverly, was with another guy, and everyone on the ship treated him like crap ever since he was a child, which of course would mean him growing up to become brash and sullen. Okay, yes, some of the things he did were wrong, but I do think he got more done than Kieran. He clearly knew what he was doing, and knew what would be the best course of action. In fact, without him, Kieran probably would have destroyed the ship. Seth also understood that the way Kieran was acting towards the end could be dangerous for everyone on board the Empyrean, just like Waverly did. For me, Seth had a more distinctive personality than Kieran, and I liked reading about him. I also thought he had more chemistry with Waverly than Kieran did, and from the ending, I’m really hoping we get to see something happen between the two.

One problem I’d say would be that I found Glow hard to follow at times – there was a lot of technical jargon which threw me a little, and the switching from scene to scene was a bit difficult to get used to. The only other thing that I’d complain about is that (mini spoiler alert) one of my favourite characters won’t be in the next book, which is a shame (end of spoiler), but apart from that, I really enjoyed Glow and can’t wait for the next book. Highly recommended, especially for sci-fi fans or those who like darker YA.

9 comments:

  1. This is the first review that I read on Glow where I actually got a sense about what this book is about. I was debating on reading it, since it sounds a little like Across The Universe, but I think I am going to give it a try now. Thanks!

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  2. It does sound like Across the Universe, but I really liked that book and am hungry for more sci-fi in YA. I'll give this a try, too.

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  3. Lol like everyone already said, it sounds like Across the Universe but it still sounds like a great book and I like that some YA authors are daring to go a little darker than ever before.
    I have put this one on hold at the library!

    Thanks for the great review, I can't wait to read it now.

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  4. It's great that you enjoyed it. Unfortunately I didn't like the book. Beautiful cover but I was left with mixed feelings with the book. :)

    I think because most readers expect GLOW to be like ACROSS THE UNIVERSE which it wasn't.

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  5. I've read a ton of different opinons on this, I think theres a definite divide between the lovers and the haters. And some toeing the line of both sides. I think I know what to expect when I read a bad review, then I read a good one and ahhh! I'll probably check this out eventually because I'm curious where my thoughts will lay. And I definitely like the sound of the villains surprising you and not knowing who to trust. I love being shocked in a story, rather than guessing things early on.

    Awesome review, Liz!

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  6. I totally agree with you when it comes to Kieran vs Seth. I'm really hoping that the next book in the series has a lot more Seth in it ;)

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  7. I'm really interested in this one. The plot sounds intriguing and I always like alternating POVs.

    I'm not sure whether or not I'll like Kieran. I have a high tolerance level for overly-nice guys but the way you described him does not sound favourable... Kind of personality-less.

    Great review, Liz! :)

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  8. Ooh, I love it when villains seem normal. I didn't realize this one was so dark; I think I might really like it despite what some reviews have said.

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  9. I agree with the Kieran vs Seth thing, but Seth was so sadistic! I loved the book though it was hard to follow and can't wait for the next one. Awesome review Liz!

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