04 October 2011

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

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.

I was very torn about this book when I read it, and to be honest I’m still not sure where I stand. On some days I think it is one of the best science fiction YAs to come out this year. On others I can’t help but pick apart its flaws. I think the biggest one of these, in my mind, is that the plot is very grim. It’s a very personal thing, but I greatly dislike plots where I don’t feel that the protagonists have much hope to make their conditions better. It’s why I call Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer the wonderful, horrible book: it’s very well written, but I can’t help but hate it because I know everyone’s going to die either before the book ends or shortly after. I felt that way the entire way through Glow. Additionally Ryan’s view of humanity is very grim. She sets up two dichotomies for society, atheistic liberals and religious conservatives, and then makes them equally horrible places to live. The one oppresses women and encourages them to serve their husbands, and the other sets up gang rape as a way of life. Both of them see no problem with the mass rape of the young girls in the books, the liberal group literally and the religious group figuratively when they use them as breeders for new children. With the horrible turn the boys’ society takes in the absence of the girls it seems as if the book is saying you are either victim or oppressor, all humanity is horrible so it only matters if you are on top or on bottom. Even though Kieran tries to help the boys he cannot help but become the very thing that Waverly despises. There are also some strange physics problems with the science in the book. Ryan seems to be under the impression that a ship in space that is not accelerating is coasting to a halt, like a car or boat on Earth, and a ship that is not powering its engines is decelerating and will not lose gravity, but will have less gravity than an accelerating ship. Uniting the book over all these problems, however, are engrossing characters and a plot line that grabs you and forces you to keep going. I will pick up the next book in this series because of that indefinable “something” that’s making me curious about where Ryan is going.

I was provided with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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