Monday, April 09, 2012
REVIEW: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Guest review by Carrie from teabelly
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan is definitely a page-turner. Set in the future aboard a space ship, it follows Waverly Marshall and Kieran Alden as they travel to New Earth. Their families left Earth years before in search of a new home, and both teenagers were born aboard the Empyrean. Being amongst the oldest of the ship’s children, it is natural for Waverly and Kieran to start a relationship, and they fall in love. Their lives are interrupted when a sister ship, The New Horizon, suddenly makes contact, and their worlds are torn apart. Can Kieran and Waverly find their way back to each other and, if they do, will they ever be the same again?
I really enjoyed this book. The action starts almost immediately and it doesn’t let up until the end, when I was very invested in the world Ryan had created and am now fairly desperate to read the next instalment. It is not a perfect book by any means. I struggled with the beginning, and especially the main characters and how they were depicted. Kieran is a bit of a cardboard cut out at first, he’s a basic idea of what the perfect boy would be if you were trapped in space and your choices were limited. He’s a good boy, he’s smart, he’s a bit of a suck up, and he’s not used to people not liking him. Thankfully once the story gets going he becomes a bit more fleshed out, and I found him much more relatable. The way he is forced to change and how that will impact on his relationship with Waverly are some of the most heartbreaking parts of the book.
The two main characters are separated early on, and the author uses this as a device to tell each of their stories and see through their eyes. We get a much better sense of each character this way. It also becomes much less of a love story and more two separate stories of survival. I enjoyed this, it felt a bit fresher than the usual teen romances. Yes, there is the possibility of a love triangle, which comes in the form of Seth, but all the romance is on the periphery, as survival is much more the focus. They think of each other and miss each other, but it’s not constant, there is too much else at stake.
The book turned out to be a lot darker than I was expecting. It has similar themes to The Handmaid’s Tale, a book I’ve always found disturbing. It is not on the same literary level, but it draws on similar religious themes and makes the reader continually question who is right and who is wrong. And it is surprising. Characters I thought were one-note would do something I never would have expected, usually making my stomach churn. Waverly’s story is the stronger of the two, and I connected to her more. I didn’t really buy Kieran’s storyline and his conflict with Seth for much of the time, as it felt a bit heavy handed. There were certain bits where the religious parts made me uncomfortable and, again, I lost my ability to suspend disbelief. But, having said that, Ryan did manage to bring me back, mostly because I think the way she uses the religious aspects is very clever. It raises a lot of questions and I love it when books do that. As you might be able to tell, this one has stayed with me in the couple of days since I’ve finished it, and I think it’s a mark of a very good book that I’m still thinking about it.
I don’t know when the next book is coming out, but I want it now.
What a brilliant review, thank you so much Carrie!