Monday, August 29, 2011
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 9/13/2011
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About the Book: In a future where Earth is being destroyed, the hopes of finding a new planet to continue life is pinned on two ships-the Empyrean and the New Horizon. Waverly is the oldest girl on the Empyrean and wants a bit more to her life other than a proposal from Kieran, the oldest Empyrean boy. When the Empyrean is met up with their sister ship, New Horizon, the ship is abuzz with what the ship could want. Soon, the Empyrean is being mounted and all the girls are whisked away to a new life on the New Horizon.
As the oldest, Waverly knows she must fight for their survival and rights. The New Horizon has never been able to successfully conceive children in deep space and they want the girls of the Empyrean to help them create a new generation. Meanwhile, on the Empyrean, the boys are looking for a way to survive and save their friends and family. Kieran tries to take leadership of the ship, but is overthrown.
With Waverly and Kieran surrounded by enemies, they must each formulate a plan to save their ship and those around them.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Glow is one of the big buzz books of 2011. I finished it a week ago and I'm still unsure what I thought about it. To make it easier for me to formulate my thoughts, I'm going to break this review down into what I liked and what I didn't like.
What I liked: I liked that Waverly is pretty kick butt and I can see her growing during the rest of the series into a nice, strong, female lead that you really want to cheer on. I also liked that the book is straight science fiction-this is scifi in space in the future-no genre mashups. There's a bit of romance in the book, but it's not a focal point. Instead the story is more about Waverly and Kieran and their respective trials of survival in their own way. Waverly is fighting a more psychological battle where Kieran is fighting more of a physical and spiritual one. There's a small hint that there might be a love triangle, but I'm holding out hope that that doesn't happen in future books, because I think the story is strong enough without it. (Also, the character that could possibly be in the love triangle is kind of a jerk, so I would have a hard time wanting Waverly to be with him.)
Glow is fast paced and the action starts very early on-just a few pages in, which makes for a quick, page-turning read. The story alternates between what's happening with Waverly and her ship and Kieran and his ship. The New Horizon is an interesting ship that will get readers talking for sure! Anne Mather is the leader, or Pastor, of the ship and it borderlines on a cult. She's a great bad guy because you never know who to trust or not, what to believe and you want Waverly to fight back. Kieran on the other hand is dealing with a ship that has been attacked, trying to keep up morale and find a way to save his ship, it's passengers and the missing girls. Kieran begins holding meetings and preaching sermons to boost morale. One ship has religion that is bad and harmful, another has a religion that is hopeful and healing.
There's an exploration of what people do to survive in tough situations, religion, trust, relationships, power vs. absoulte power and what is right or wrong and are there blurred lines at times. With everything that is going on in the plot, this one could be ripe for book discussions and dissecting the plot.
What I didn't like: (WARNING: I'm trying to avoid spoilers and be a bit vague, but there may be some spoilers here!!) At times I found the third person narrative and the alternating stories a bit frustrating. This meant the reader knows what is happening when the characters do not, which made their actions a bit hard to deal with since I knew more about the situation then they did. I also felt Waverly was unfair to Kieran and they should have just talked out a lot of things. I felt they never showed any understanding about each other and were both stubborn in their own ways. I know not everything could be wrapped up in one book since this is a series, but Waverley frustrated me by the end with her stubbornness to see everything as good or bad and never the possibility that some things are situational. She was so unaccepting of Kieran which really annoyed me, since I as the reader had been there with him through his trials as well. I also felt that Kieran was much more willing to listen to Waverly than she was to him. I understand that Waverly's situation gave her a bad experience, especially with religion, but she's so willing to brush off Kieran because of her own explanation and experience instead of understanding his side. I hope this gets explored more in the next books, as I think Waverly is being rash. She has issues with trust, which I guess I can understand, but I still felt she was being unfair by the end.
I didn't like that Seth was jerk-we know what happened as the reader because we're told in third person what was going on the ship. So we're told that Seth is not great. But then we're supposed to start to wonder about him and if he's really good or bad. Since we were told about what happened early on, I had a hard time buying into the fact that maybe he wasn't so bad. I think this would have been better with a different narration style.
The author is trying to set up a discussion of power and does power bring absolute power, which I think in some ways works and in others doesn't. Again, I had problems with this because of the way Waverly and Kieran's stories hang at the end of this book. Waverly refuses to trust and see Kieran's side, Kieran has a different viewpoint because of his own situation. Plus, I really hated how Seth was trying to convince everyone that Kieran was out for absolute power. The author makes note in the first two chapters that Kieran is the oldest child and oldest boy on the ship and it's known to everyone on the ship that he is in line to take over after the Captain. He's the Captain's protege. But when the attack happens and Kieran begins to lead, Seth questions him and tries to turn everyone else against him. He claims that Kieran is out for control and power and wonders why they didn't hold an election. Um, the ship was being attacked, people are dying and missing, and you want to hold an election? Plus, we've been told by this point several times how Kieran is in line to take over, so by rule of succession, Kieran taking over makes sense. This just really made me dislike Seth's character even more.
I also never really understood why they just took the girls. Why not take the boys too? If they could never have children, wouldn't having some boys on board help multiply their next generation like they wanted? The whole thing never really made sense to me-I would have wanted both genders to increase my population for sure.
The end doesn't wrap anything up, there are lots of questions unanswered and the cliffhanger is just a bit meh. It leaves you wishing the book was longer and that the whole story could wrap up if the characters would just talk to each other more!
Don't get me wrong-there were things I liked and I think the buzz that this one is generating is great. I like that science fiction, especially scifi set in space, is making a comeback. I think there will be lots of readers who are in love this book, but for me it was a middle of the road novel. I'll read the next books because I'm interested enough to keep going and I want to know what happens and I want answers to my questions, but it's not a book I'll be raving about.
Book Pairings: Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Matched by Ally Condie
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC recieved from publisher at ALA