Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

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Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: An intelligent book that will make the reader think. Edgy and dark, without being explicitly gory or horrific. Great characters and some thoughtful, if frightening, psychology make this a gripping read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0330535588

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Everyone expected Kieran and Waverley to be together. As the first of the first generation born in space, it seemed almost written in the stars. Destiny. Waverley is mostly happy with her life on board the Empyrean – one of two ships trailblazing across the universe to New Earth, where their crews will start a new human frontier – she loves Kieran (she thinks) and the ship's crew is like one big happy family. But sometimes, she wonders if her life would be different, if her choices would be different, if the weight of continuing the human race didn't rest on her shoulders.

Then New Horizon, Empyrean's sister ship, attacks, and Waverley and Kieran find themselves apart, Kieran left to try and salvage a crippled ship, Waverley kidnapped by the first strangers she's ever met. Both have to fight for their lives if they are ever to see each other again.

But things won't ever be the same again. As Waverley tries to save herself and the rest of the girls from the charismatic, manipulative leader of the New Horizon, Kieran struggles with the pressures of command and mutiny amongst his crew. Both dream of seeing each other, but if they were to be reunited, would they even recognise each other anymore?

It took me some time to get into this. I don't really know why – it was a little slow starting, yes, and I struggled to relate to Kieran and his desire to see Waverley adopt a more religious life, but that aside it had intrigue, a strong female lead and a number of science fiction elements that usually are enough to keep me interested without any assistance.

Whatever the initial stumbling block was, it was worth persevering with, as once the conflict kicked off – which it did within a few pages – I found myself unable to put the book down.

Ryan fills her pages with some truly frightening psychological commentary on the human race, isolation and desperation. It's a very dark book for teenagers, without ever being explicitly so, and is all the better for it. It's an intelligent read that demands the reader to think about the questions it raises, the moralities it presents. With no clear 'goody' and 'baddy' on either ship, it is easy to be swept along with whoever's narrative is currently at the forefront, and the way the two narratives on the two ships eventually come together and start to overlap is a stroke of genius that will leave readers questioning everything that had previously thought.

The characters are so well thought out and believable – with everyone from main characters to the more minor players making questionable decisions that become completely understandable as their backgrounds are drip fed throughout the story. Sometimes these details felt a little shoehorned in, but despite this, and my initial inability to connect with the story, this was a gripping read and I'd highly recommend it to teens who like books to make them think, and I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for the sequels.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

Fans of Future Dystopia novels should check out Bookbag's Top Ten Dystopian Books For Childrenlist for some great recommendations.

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