Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Sky Chasers, Book 2

Synopsis: Waverly and Kieran are finally reunited on the Empyrean. Kieran has led the boys safely up to this point, and now that the girls are back, their mission seems slightly less impossible: to chase down the New Horizon, and save their parents from the enemy ship. But nothing is truly as it seems…Kieran’s leadership methods have raised Seth’s hackles— and Waverly’s suspicions. Is this really her fiancé? The handsome, loving boy she was torn from just a short time before? More and more, she finds her thoughts aligned with Seth’s. But if Seth is Kieran’s Enemy No. 1, what does that make her?

In one night, a strange explosion rocks the Empyrean—shooting them off course and delaying their pursuit of the New Horizon—and Seth is mysteriously released from the brig. Seth is the most obvious suspect for the explosion, and Waverly the most obvious suspect for releasing him. As the tension reaches a boiling point, will Seth be able to find the true culprit before Kieran locks them both away—or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? With the balance of power precarious and the clock ticking, every decision counts… every step brings them closer to a new beginning, or a sudden end…

Review: The previous book, Glow was excellent so I was eager to find out what happened to all those teenagers of the Empyrean after the terrible attack of the New Horizon. And I must say I was not disappointed as this volume is as good as the previous one.

Thanks to Waverly, the girls are back on board of the Empyrean. We might expect that there would be a semblance of calm in the ship but it’s not the case. Indeed, the attack of the New Horizon and the sad events that followed are still present in the minds and the parents who survived are always Anne Mather’s prisoners. Kieran tries to maintain the relative calm and the crew in high spirits with prayers and sermons but in vain. He loses his credibility. Furthermore several incidents that threaten the security of the ship occur and then there’s Seth…

Like the first book, the story is told in the third person singular. So we find this alternation of points of view which the author had accustomed us but this time Seth’s POV is added to Kieran’s and Waverly’s POV.

Waverly is traumatized by what happened aboard the New Horizon. Moreover, she feels terribly guilty and the other girls, especially the younger ones, don’t stop reproach her lot of things. So here we have a more fragile heroine, ill at ease but at the same time, she remains strong and determined. She is a girl who has endured horrible things and has demonstrated a lot of bravery to get out and despite all she has endured, she continues to fight. Kieran meanwhile is the captain of the ship. It’s a position with great responsibilities and unfortunately he is not always up to the task. His lack of experience weakens and serves him badly. Then he is traumatized by what Seth did to him (see Book 1). He is so afraid that this happens again to the point that he takes the wrong decisions and makes bad choices, directing the anger of other members of the Empyrean against him, including Waverly who doesn’t recognize anymore. The two young people are no longer on the same wave-length and it was sad to see them get there.

Seth however surprised me. Ha has become less impulsive, more thoughtful. Having his point of view here is a good thing because it allows us to understand and to know him better. He too has made mistakes, terrible mistakes but he is desperately trying to redeem himself. He is more serene than before and I must say I loved this new Seth. He gives in Spark a much better impression than in the first book and suddenly I found him very cute.

The maturity of these adolescents was striking enough in Glow but it is more in Spark. They are alone, left to themselves. They have to take important decisions without any adult to supervise them. Some manage to do it like Tobin but for others however it is more difficult. Amy Kathleen Ryan has done a superb job with the psychology of her characters: they are complex and it was very interesting to see each of them evolve in either the right or the wrong way. Like the first book, we can find this tense and claustrophobic atmosphere throughout the novel and I would say it is even more intense here. It boils beneath the surface and we have the constant feeling that the situation could explode at any moment. The story holds your breath and the suspense is almost unbearable. There are some revelations about the past shared by the two ships. We discover some things about the conflict between the Empyrean and the New Horizon but there are still some blurred areas and it will take a little longer to clarify all the grey areas.

To conclude Spark is an excellent sequel. This novel ends on a terrible cliffhanger and now I can’t wait to read the third book.

5mon pseudo

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Sky Chasers, Book 1

Synopsis: 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.

Review: I was excited to discover this book. Glow is the first installment of a trilogy entitled Sky Chasers. Book 2, Spark was published last July in the United States and we can say that this book looks like Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in the sense that it includes some difficult passages and it features a strong and determined heroine and other quite complex characters. However the comparison should stop there because Glow is a novel apart. Besides here it is not really about dystopia but science fiction for young adults, which is a novelty in France. The entire story takes place on a spaceship.

So the story begins in the Empyrean when Kieran, 16 years old, is about to make his wedding proposal to Waverly, 15 years old. The two teenagers were born and raised onboard the Empyrean, they never saw the Earth and therefore have known nothing except space and the ship. Like their parents before them, they must be together to give birth to the future settlers of the New Earth. This is their duty, but it is not the life that Waverly aspires. Everyone wants her to be with Kieran, Captain Jones’s favorite apprentice to succeed him. He seems to be perfect and yet, deep down within her, Waverly hesitates. Then there is Seth, another boy of the ship and she cannot help but feel troubled in front of him. Nevertheless, her future seems to be with Kieran… until the Empyrean is attacked by the sister ship and life turns to horror.

The story is told in the third person and alternates between the Kieran and Waverly’s point of view, so we can see what happens on both sides. After the assault, everything happens very quickly, our two characters barely have time to understand what is going on. On one hand we have Waverly and the other girls who are abducted from their families and taken to the New Horizon where they try to survive surrounded by strangers. Then on the other side we follow Kieran and the other boys who find themselves alone, left to themselves.

Kieran is a very smart boy but sometimes he lacks a bit of bravery and has difficulties to impose himself. He is the future captain of the Empyrean so everyone expects a lot from him. But after the attack, he is quickly overwhelmed by the events and makes mistakes. Tension is at its maximum and Seth uses his lack of experience to mount the other boys against him. I admit that between these two young guys, it is very difficult to make a choice. Kieran seems to be the perfect guy but the evolution of this character is quite puzzling. As for Seth, he is aggressive and violent towards others, which makes him not very friendly either. While rivalries rage aboard the Empyrean, Waverly, Samantha and Sarah, are looking for a way to escape from the New Horizon which is not easy as all of their actions are watched. I liked Waverly; she is a rebel at heart. She is a very strong and courageous heroine psychologically because despite everything what happened, she manages to endure. Her determination is such that we can only admire her especially when we think about all the ordeals she had to go through.

The secondary characters are also very interesting. Most of them have done terrible things, gradually we understand their actions and we end up by questioning ourselves about what is right or wrong. Anne Mather, pastor and captain of the New Horizon, is the character who intrigued me the most, she uses her charisma to manipulate people. She does not hesitate to use religion to accomplish her own purposes and resorts to practices that are chilling.

I was really surprised by the darkness of this novel and the maturity of these teenagers. Amy Kathleen Ryan keeps us in suspense from beginning to end, it’s like a nightmare and even though the story is told in the third person, we cannot help but be touched by these children. Some scenes have really tightened my heart so they were almost unbearable and yet I could not stop myself to turn the pages again and again, always wondering what else could happen to them because we must say, nothing is spared to them.

Amy Kathleen Ryan’s writing style is fluid, it is a book beautifully well written. In conclusion I loved this novel. It is an interesting read which leads us to wonder about a lot of things and I highly recommend it. I wonder what will happen afterwards. I can’t wait to read the sequel.