Two space colonies escaping a dystopian Earth. Sinister plots. A young woman caught in a war both ideological and physical. In a nutshell, you have Glow, the new novel from Amy Kathleen Ryan being touted as “the next Hunger Games.” I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but…. maybe. Want to win a copy? Read on!
THE OFFICIAL BLURB: If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back. 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.
MY THOUGHTS: This has been one of my most enjoyable YA reads in a while, first because I like a dystopian story and second because it has none of the things that tend to annoy me in YA. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know my list of annoyances include excessive angst, unprovoked sighing, paranormal characters who glitter, new-mysterious-boy-in-school-who’s-irresistibly-drawn-to-me syndrome, and anything with more than one scene set in a high school. None of that here.
Waverly is a strong character, but not unbelievably so. She’s engaging and you’re rooting for her well before the crap hits the fan. Kieran…well, let’s just say Kieran needs some character development. He takes a twist toward the end of the book that it will be very interesting to see how it develops as the series progresses. Seth, on the other hand, is a complex and fascinating character.
The villain in this story is not so much the rival people aboard the New Horizon, who stage a hostile raid on the Empyrean, but religious fanaticism. It’s an interesting twist and offers a lot of potential for developing a serious theme. So far, it’s only potential. Things are still very black and white, but I’m hoping in the second book Ryan will add some depth to both the good guys and the bad guys. Even YA can tolerate some depth and shades of gray.
Which brings me to the thing I didn’t like about Glow, and that I’m seeing a lot of these days—the cliffhanger ending. There are a lot of questions left hanging at the end of this book, so much so that it almost feels like a massive setup for book two in the series. I’ll definitely pick up the second book to see what happens, so that aspect of it works from a marketing standpoint. But I can’t help but be a little annoyed that there’s not more resolved before this first book ends. I wish the book had been longer, or the story less ambitious, in order to develop the characters a bit more and flesh out what could turn into a complex and fascinating plot.
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