December 28th, 2011


by Amy Kathleen Ryan

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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.


Glow is NOTHING like The Hunger Games.

I just want to get this point across before you’re all fooled by the dangerous statement on the back cover of this book, claiming that this is ‘the most riveting series debut since The Hunger Games.’

Because it’s not the most riveting series debut since The Hunger Games.

Quite frankly, it wasn’t really riveting at all.

Glow was okay.  That’s it. Nothing more.

For one thing, this book begins on a ship that has been traveling through space for thirty-some years.  Apparently, for some reason, two ships left Earth in order to populate a New Earth. One would think that Kathleen Ryan might, I don’t know, tell us why this happened in the first place. But no explanation is provided. Of course not. The very thought of acceptable world building appalls me!

Also, this debut has very strong  religious views. I’m not going to comment on this, but if you feel strongly about Christianity and/or atheism… this book is not for you.

Furthermore, this book was a little macabre, to say the least. The violations and murders mixed with the teenager-y feeling of this novel were quite unsettling. It almost felt like the author was desperately trying to incorporate morbid little twists into Glow in order to appeal to young adults’ thrill seeking. Reading others’ reviews of this book, I can tell that it worked. I usually appreciate horror sub-plots, but this… it felt fake; the characters acted completely inhumanly while going through unnamed terrors. It was as if they felt no emotion at all. It was very disconcerting.

Actually, quite a bit of this book seemed like it was only written to appeal to the masses; the love triangle, the kidnapping, the lousy world building… in a lot of ways, Glow reminded me of a sci-fi version of Wither. Great female protagonist? Check. Cool plot? Check. Dark twists? Check. Plot holes? Double check. Awful world building? Triple check. However, if you are going to read one of these two books, do me and you a favour and pick Wither. Okay?

I found Kieran, the male protagonist, to be extremely annoying. He is stuck-up, thickheaded, naive, self-pitying… don’t think I couldn’t go on. And the worst thing about him? He thinks he’s friggin’ God’s gift on Earth. And some characters agree with him! Every chapter from his point of view was like banging my head against a brick wall: stupid and painful. So. There’s half the book for you.

Waverly’s point of view was much more satisfying. She actually evolved as a character, learned from her mistakes, and *gasp* didn’t irritate me to the point of complete and utter agony! Yay for her! No, I’m serious.  I actually quite enjoyed her schemes, her willpower, and her resolve, though I did find her to be callous and unfeeling at times.  Reading from Waverly’s perspective left me feeling like I was conspiring along with her, biding my time until I could seek revenge on the New Horizon’s crew.

Another thing I liked about Glow is the imperfection of both ships’ morality. It is mentioned in the description, above, that the New Horizon betrays the Empyrean. And although this is true, Ryan manages to tell both sides of this story, until the reader questions which ship actually betrayed the other in the first place.

The villain in Glow is perfect.  She is the quintessential bad guy; two-faced, seemingly innocent, hiding her cruelties under the blanket of religion. She acts unthinkably and succeeds in justifying her actions. Her motherly demeanor is trustworthy, but behind her benevolent appearance lies a heartless, calculating, maniacal woman. Reading about characters getting sucked into her lies was captivating, intense, and absorbing.

In conclusion, Glow is more like a flickering candle flame than a supernova. Actually, I would more likely compare it to a cheap flashlight; plastic, mass-produced, but enjoyable when used for shadow puppet shows. 2.9/5 stars.


I’ll keep you posted,



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