Book Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (Sky Chasers #1)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Format: ARC (courtesy of St. Martin's Griffin)
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publication Date: 09.27.2011
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.

The back cover of the book says: "...the most riveting series since The Hunger Games." Maybe I was expecting a bit more because of this, but I don't think it is that comparable to The Hunger Games. The only comparison I can make is that of Waverly and Katniss. Waverly is a quick-thinking, intelligent girl, who goes through some tough trials in the book. Other than that I can't compare the two, as they are entirely different books. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Glow does have some very good qualities that originally made me want to give it four stars. The characterizations are gripping and intense. Amy Kathleen Ryan gets down to the nitty gritty of real human nature and psychology with these characters. Each is continually changing in during the book, due to the circumstances they face. Characters who start out weak become strong, and others who start out strong become broken. Good guys are really bad guys, and bad guys are really good guys, and some remain a mystery. There are heroes, anti-heroes,  and villains, and you will have no idea which is which until the end. It's a complex set of characters, and seriously well-done. Temperature raised for this, alone.

Sadly, it didn't work for me and a I think a big part of the reason is because the book is written in third person, and it isn't very descriptive, either. I felt detached from everything. These characters experienced deep, unsettling, emotions, and I felt hardly any of them. We are told (not shown) that terrible things are happening, and they are feeling these emotions, but I wasn't able to picture any of it, let alone feel it.

For me, reading is about feeling things I wouldn't normally feel, and going places I wouldn't normally go. When that doesn't happen, I can't connect with the book. Sadly, it didn't happen with this book.

There were a few more things that didn't sit well with me: the huge clashing of church and secular thinking, and the lack of any change in vocabulary, although this is supposed to be hundreds of years into the future.  Modern idioms are all the same, even though some of them relate to things that these characters never would have seen or heard of before. I realize this is kind of vague, but I don't want to get into describing things this far from the release date.

Overall, I was entertained by the mix of characters and was interested enough to finish the book. There was a very sweet scene towards the end that almost had me in tears, and it was a huge redeeming factor for me, especially because the author chose that scene instead of another (more typically-used) scene. I know this doesn't make sense (here I am being vague again), but it will if you read the book.

I can see how this book will appeal to a lot of readers. The story is interesting and adventurous, and while it didn't work for me, I definitely recommend it to those who love science fiction. There's a lot of space travel and talk of space-related things, like the effects of velocity on gravity...a dream for the sci-fi lover. But don't plan to read this for the love story aspect (it's not a huge part of the book). Read it it for the travel into space, the shocking look at the best and worst of human nature, and for the answer to what happens when a two groups of people who have been alone in space for a long time meet.

Read this if:
...you like space travel, and you like characters with a little depth.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Swearing, murder, and mature themes dealing with pregnancy and egg harvesting stealing, although none of it is particularly graphic or gruesome.}

Amy Kathleen Ryan:


  1. Nice review, this book looks like it has lots of potential...

  2. I am really, really looking forward to this book. I think the new wave of dystopians are set in space! I LOVE sci-fi. Also, I REALLY want this book. I just love the idea of religion vs secular and there's something great about someone finally writing a book that VALUES women, as opposed to Wither where they're mostly shot for not being pretty enough.

    At least, I HOPE that's what this book does.

  3. Coreena: It definitely does, and I'm interested to see where the next books takes us.

    Lissa: I'm loving them, too! This one definitely has some really good Sci-Fi qualities to it; lots of space travel, gravity vs. zero gravity talk, and such. I loved reading about it all. I hope oyu get to read it soon!

  4. Great honest review. I've been wanting to try this one. Thanks for your honesty.

  5. Juju: Thanks for your comment! I'd love to see what you think about it if you read it.

  6. I'll definitely consider it when I'm in the mood for an interesting sci-fi.

  7. I hope you do! I think a lot of people will like it...it just wasn't for me. :(


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