GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Published September 27, 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin
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?
GLOW was a book where the cover and synopsis had been hooked. I put other books aside to read it. They say don’t judge a book on its cover, but I did anyway, and this was one of the few cases where I ended up being disappointed. This review has taken me several hours to write, something so unusual for me, because it alternated between being a great book for me and pissing me off.
Many YA books recently (see my review of DROUGHT by Pam Bachorz) have tackled religion as a key plot point. GLOW’s depiction of Christianity was what almost ruined this book for me. It was almost a fallacy, using Christianity as an excuse for evil actions. The antagonist of this story is the Pastor/leader of the other ship, the New Horizon. They come to the Empyrean, home of our protagonist Waverly, and kidnap all the girls to solve their fertility issues while sabotaging the ship, killing the adults, and leaving the boys to run the ship once the remaining adults sacrifice themselves to prevent a meltdown.
The logic of the ship states that the religious people were put on one ship and the secular (and Muslims) on the second, yet Kieran, the main male character, becomes a religious leader on the Empyrean at the end. His family was noticeably religious and by the end he has converted the boys in one fell swoop – after one SPEECH – to Christianity and calls his work God’s work, basically mimicking what happened on the New Horizon. The logic here was…not really present.
SPOILER HAS ENDED
There is a love triangle in this book, but not so much instalove – it has been set up that Waverly and Kieran were a couple beforehand, more so out of expectation than true love. At the beginning their relationship is almost refreshing, showing Waverly’s doubts about their relationship but setting up a scenario that is believable. However, Kieran becomes increasingly week and possibly a little unstable (crazy). The other love interest, Seth, is just purely insane. His methods are sadistic and his excuses are lies. He beats, tortures, imprisons, and almost kills people. Of course, it is expected that Waverly will pick one by the end, but I honestly think she shouldn’t based on book one.
What saves this book? The writing. I am honestly not one for frilly, overwrought literature. I like some description and florid enhancement, but I had it beaten over my head by my lit professor that purple prose was Satan’s work. This is my kind of writing – a little lyrical at times, but mostly straightforward, to the point, and eloquent. Ms. Ryan is my type of author for sure. It’s just the plot that falters. Waverly is also a strong protagonist that I enjoyed. She was smart, she was a strong leader, and she knew what she was doing. She risked herself for others and had a mission. I loved her as a character while I quite hated her potential suitors.
This book needed to tone down the religion a great deal. I am not sure if I will read book two based on the fact it implies that religion will be a strong point in the second book. Also, Waverly’s love interests were unlikable.
I could go on about this (and I will on Goodreads – check out my review there for more), but overall, this book was likable, but nowhere near as good as it could have been.
VERDICT: The overuse of religion in this book overran the interesting plot and the good writing from Ms. Ryan. If you are not big on religious bashing and/or preachiness, steer clear of this book
♥♥♥ - THREE HEARTS