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. 

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