Monday, August 8, 2011


Glow, by Amy Kathleen Ryan, claims to be as riveting as The Hunger Games, but although it is interesting enough, it is not the next big thing. The next Hunger Games will be something totally different, my husband points out, just as The Hunger Games was a different sort of story at the time. A lot of books are making this claim lately, but the closest I've seen is Pure, which I just reviewed, and even that, I predict, will not get the fame of The Hunger Games, even though it might deserve it.

Glow is the first in what will be the Sky Chasers series for young adults. Waverly and Kieran are among the oldest teenagers on the Empyrean, one of two spaceships traveling to what will become the New Earth. They are expected to marry and begin the re-population of humankind, and indeed, they have been dating for awhile. But when the Empyrean catches up with its sister ship, which should have been light years ahead, disaster awaits. Waverly and the girls are kidnapped to help the sterile population aboard the New Horizon, and Kieran and the other boys are left to die on a badly mangled Empyrean with no adult supervision. As their lives are turned upside down through suffering, they cling to the hope of seeing each other and possibly their parents again. But, without question, there can be no going back. Their lives and maybe even their love will be forever altered.

I enjoyed the pace of this book. The ship setting was fascinating, and there were a lot of moral dilemmas that kept me thinking even as I enjoyed the action and suspense. It's always intriguing to me to see teenagers reacting to and overcoming the worst adversity. Granted, I'm referring to fictional teenagers; I wouldn't wish these trials on real people. There's a little bit of Lord of the Flies going on here on one side of the story, and on the other is a strange mixture of cults and biotechnology. It's obviously a well-thought-out book, juggling a variety of ideas.

I had only one problem with the story, and unfortunately, it's over a rather crucial point, in my opinion. There are a few minor spoilers following. Elements of the story border on religious, not necessarily Christian but close enough to make me wonder what the author believes about Christianity. Since the series has only just begun, I can't say yet where the author's message will fall, but it's not looking good for any kind of religion. But, interestingly in this story, the division and fighting between the two ships stems from different religious views. The Empyrean is essentially for atheists, and the New Horizon, whose members kidnap the girls, is captained by a woman Pastor. Religion takes on a very bad light aboard the New Horizon, but back on the Empyrean, the boys begin to find comfort in coming together and having religious services. Religion looks good on the Empyrean, to a point, but it gets muddy at the very end. I'm curious to see where the author will go from here, but I don't have high hopes for this aspect of the story. I think the author might come down somewhere in the middle, but even so, her understanding of theology does not appear to be Christian and should be absorbed with caution. The whole religious aspect of the book is kind of key to the plot, and the way it is portrayed with mixed-up theology, even where religion seems to be good, has me cringing a bit. But the story is good and certainly thought-provoking.

Glow is available in September.

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