~Amy Kathleen Ryan
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
From the author's website:
What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?
Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...
Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.
But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.
Earth is quickly reaching it's expiration date, and two ships have been sent to repopulate another planet many light years away. Waverly and Kieran are the oldest of the first generation of children to be born on the Empyrian after many years of infertility, and as such are expected to marry and procreate soon. While Kieran is completely on board with this, Waverly is not so sure this is the direction she wants her life to take.
As the story opens, Waverly and Kieran are looking out the window of the Empyrian at something that's got everyone talking: The other ship. The New Horizon is supposed to be way ahead of the Empyrian, and until a few days ago, it had not been visible to them. Kieran, as the oldest of the new generation, has been working with the ship's captain for many years, and he knows the captain is worried and suspicious. Then, members of the New Horizon's crew forcibly take over the Empyrian, killing most of the adults and kidnapping the female children.
Glow is a fabulous Young Adult Sci-Fi adventure that will keep you turning pages until you get to the very last one. And then you'll turn it over and start reading it again. Just when you think you know what's going to happen next, Ms. Ryan pulls the rug out from under you and you're left wondering how the heck that happened.
The girls are taken to the New Horizon, where they are quickly brainwashed into believing they've been rescued, when in reality they've been stolen. The captain of the New Horizon, Anne Mather (Pastor Mather, as she is called), is a woman I love to hate: she's using religion to keep the population of the New Horizon under control. She is a gifted communicator and she's convinced everyone on board that her way is best for everyone; that it's God's will that they succeed and must do so at any cost: God helps those who help themselves. Waverly immediately sees through the spin but is rendered helpless to fight; Maher has total control. It is in Mather's dealings with Waverly, though, that the author keeps us on our toes: Mather brings up specific, reasonable doubts about the actions of the captain and crew of the Empyrion, forcing Waverly to realize fears she's been hiding from herself about what's going on aboard the Empyrion.
While the New Horizon is full of religious zealotry and is an experience of nightmarish proportions for Waverly and the girls, things on the Empyrion are not so rosy. The only adults on board the ship are either dead or stuck in the engine room, slowly dying of radiation exposure. Kieran attempts to take over command of the ship, but Seth, another teen on board, convinces the other boys that Kieran is responsible for the deaths of most of the adults and is going to get the boys all killed as well. From there it devolves into a Lord of the Flies-type situation, becoming less about survival and more about who's in control.
I won't give away spoilers, but Ms. Ryan manages to build a spectacular love triangle into the background - Waverly's doubts about her future with Kieran merge with unexplored past feelings for Seth. Again, she keeps the reader guessing: Does Seth take after his father and have an axe to grind with Kieran, or is he just a sweet guy who sees his chance with Waverly and is taking it? Is Kieran in love with Waverly, or is he doing his duty to the ship and humankind?
The end of Glow leaves me hanging, wanting more - I have no idea where Ms. Ryan is going to take me but I cannot wait for the rest of the journey. There are some fabulous new authors emerging on the YA scene right now, and Ms. Ryan is definitely part of that group - she has the ability to capture the reader's imagination and twist the plot to keep the reader involved and continually switching sides about who's the hero and who's the villian.