Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (REVIEW)

GLOW undoubtedly has a great cover and a great marketing scheme (the next Hunger Games? Yes please!) but a plot heavy on religious sentiment and unlikable love interests weighs down a good plot and writing.

GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan
307 Pages
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.


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



  1. The whole "bound for a new world" part sounds a little like Across the Universe, but I was still excited to read it because I don't mind a little similarity -- just means that there's a higher chance I'll like it, since I loved Across the Universe. But in other reviews, I never read about the presence of religion, and I think you have a very valid point. I'm not religious myself, but I feel uncomfortable when there's religion bashing in books (or vice versa, the opposite situation). I'm a little hesitant to read it now, we'll see how I feel if I come across it.

    Thanks for the great review, it was really informative!

  2. Religion as a key plot point never, ever, ever works for me, so with that and the Sci-Fi element I'm really not sure that this one is for me. I'm not going to make it a priority, but if I have time, I'll check out a couple of chapters and see what I think!

    Thanks for the helpful review> :)

  3. you have a great blog, I have bookmarked it into my favorites as it has helped me alot in writing my literature review. I wil also recommend it to my friends.Thank you