“How many people stared at Waverly in shock? How many in anger? How many more in guilt?
Most in disbelief.
They did not believe her.
But some of them did. Some of them must know the truth.”
In a time when our planet has finally become completely uninhabitable, the would-be founders of a new Earth work toward a solution: aboard giant ships specifically equipped to grow healthy, thriving crops, one day humans can return to their home planet and rebuild. But it isn’t only the nourishment that is at stake, it is the ones who require it to re-populate the new earth. This is their mission: create new and sustainable life. But what happens when they are sabotaged from within?
I can’t explain exactly what drew me to this book–sure, I enjoy my share of fantasy/adventure fiction, but…spaceships? Complicated technological jargon? Nah, but thanks. (Trust me; I’ve still yet to see “Star Wars” or “Star Trek”, and couldn’t tell you the difference between the two.) So although I began reading the blurb with only mild interest, I quickly realized that I should probably give Glow a chance. And trust me when I say that the book was–forgive me–out of this world.
Undoubtedly, one of the most compelling aspects of this story are the multi-faceted personalities of Ryan’s characters. Comforting as it may be, when confronted with an array of new characters, to separate them into boxes labeled ‘good’ and ‘bad’, we are not allowed that luxury. The seemingly straightforward titles of ‘enemy’ and ‘friend’ undergo many transformations until we cannot be sure just who means harm and who is simply ignorant and frightened–and readers must then wonder: who, ultimately, is more to fear?
Waverly, at fifteen years old, is the oldest of the girls on the ship, and as such, is expected to marry young and have children; Kieran, her boyfriend, is the oldest boy, and faces similar expectations, as well as eventually being named captain of the Empyrean, their home ship. And there’s Seth, the quiet and brooding son of the head pilot, who intrigues Waverly in a way she can’t quite explain. When their relative peace is interrupted by the presence of their sister ship, the New Horizon, these characters are tested in ways they’ve never imagined–ways that completely blur the lines between friend and foe, lover and fighter, follower and leader.
Much like the switch aboard the Empyrean that abruptly sends its passengers into zero gravity, the story is laden with alarming revelations that send readers floundering, utterly unable to grow bored or complacent. Ryan drives the plot by way of two stories that unfold simultaneously, ebbing and flowing in eerie similarity, and forcing us to question with whom our loyalties truly lie. Caught in a confusing tug-of-war between childhood and super-adulthood (which is, of course, parenting a new race) her young characters’ motives, aspirations, and actions do more than steer or command ships: they change their entire world–literally.
Rating: 4.8/5–Because despite the occasional spaceship and engine lingo that flies over the heads of the not-quite-tech-savvy readers like me, you will be blown away by the impeccable symmetry, palpable tension, and scenes so heartwrenching you’ll need a tissue…or five.
Specifically Recommended For: Recycling enthusiasts, aspiring space explorers, future-life theorists, and Katniss Everdeen* admirers.
Glow, Amy Kathleen Ryan, St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY, 2011.
*Iconic heroine of the compelling Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.