ARC Teen Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back.
The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.
Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.
This was one of my most anticipated new releases of 2011. It is being marketed as “the most riveting series since The Hunger Games” and if that isn’t enough to grab your attention there is the gorgeous cover to tantalize the eye. Despite the comparison to The Hunger Games trilogy and the incredible artwork, I had some issues with this book that left me disappointed. Even as I sit here and draft this review it is difficult for me to pin-point the main culprit to blame for my lack of love for GLOW…I will try to explain as best I can.
First of all, the above synopsis really gives a great grasp of the overall plot and I admit it IS a good story line. Without spoiling it for anyone let me elaborate just a little… Earth as we know it no longer exists. In an attempt to save the human race from extinction two large ships (and in my mind I see the Enterprise from Star Trek only in the shape of an egg) are built and like a outer space “Noah’s Ark” are equip with plants, animals and of course lots of people. But instead of populating the ships with diverse groups they divide them by beliefs. One ship has secular passengers and the other ship carries people who are religious or spiritual. The story is told in alternating perspectives of two young adults on the secular ship.
The big thing that ate away at me was how the author portrayed the religious ship. The putting down of people who chose to believe in a higher power distracted me. In the beginning of the book it is disclosed that one of the main characters, Kieran, is more religious as is his family. They pray before meals and do not force their views on others. However as the book progresses we go through a whip-lash of emotions. In part because of actions by another group that claim to be spiritual, Kieran’s actions and beliefs begin to make him look bad to those he cares about. But when you take into account the ordeal that Kieran went through on his ship, it is remarkable that he was able to find motivation and hope. Kieran’s character was one that grew on me as the story progressed. In my opinion he grew the most. He went from being somewhat of a privileged wimp to overcoming hardship, stepping up to the plate and finding a way to be a leader.
The heroine of Waverly was difficult for me to like. For starters, she has an important role on her ship. She has a young boy who adores her, but she doesn’t seem to feel the same about him and we see her looking at another boy (Seth) and possibly considering him. Perhaps it is because she is encouraged to plan a future with Kieran that she is so easily distracted by another, but whatever the reason I never felt sympathy for her in regards to her boy problems. As the drama unfolds and things get tense and scary for Waverly my opinions changed a little. But, even after everything is said and done she is very close minded and judgmental of Kieran and what he accomplishes in her absense.
In regards to Waverly’s attraction to Seth, let me just say that I found Seth to be a monster who showed his true colors when his ship was under duress. He lashed out at others and let his personal jealousy turn him into a mean and unforgiving bully that lies and manipulates to make himself look good…if the author was really wanting to make him a potential suitor for Waverly she did not convince me whatsoever.
I guess my issue is that I felt like the author painted all spiritual people in a negative light…and that is just my reaction personally. In my opinion there are good and bad in everyone and just because one person uses their religion to mask ulterior motives doesn’t mean that anyone who prays or preaches an uplifting message is going to do bad things to others. There are some really awful things that are done by the secular group but those instances felt glossed over in comparison. I felt like the book would have been really amazing if it had made a clear case that nobody is perfect and there is potential for evil in everyone despite their views or morals. Instead the little things stuck out and took my attention away from what was actually a very well written book.
In summary, I didn’t love this book like I had hoped I would. It was page-turning and engrossing but not necessarily enjoyable. I couldn’t find a clear cut hero to cheer on. There are some deep and dark issues that factor into the plot and will most likely be explored in the next installments. I am going to trust the author and hold out hope that my discontent will prove unworthy by the time book 2 is released.