Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Glow

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
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Mar 03, 2014

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bookshelves: science-fiction, young-adult, audiobook, 2014-owned-challenge
Read from February 19 to March 03, 2014

Bullet Review:

Thank you Nemo for your recommendation that I not sell this book and stick it out. I may not have read the physical book, but it made me want to pick up the audiobook, and while I didn't adore this to pieces, I did enjoy myself quite a bit.

The long and short of it is: this book is incredibly dark but worlds better than most of the offerings you will find for Young Adults. Characters are realistic, there is some decent world-building, and the story is intriguing, if incredibly dark and for (IMO) the 16+ set. (Stealing underage girl's ova for an infertile population? The question of whether religion is evil because it is religion?) I would rate this better than the other scifi offering floating the cosmos, Across the Universe.

Will I continue? My first instinct is to say no. I have loads of other books that need wading through, the story is mostly wrapped up (though plenty of room for expansion - thank GOD no cliffhanger endings!!), and honestly, I am not that enthused about reading a book where people are bad because they have religious beliefs, not based on their personal moral codes. My mind could change tomorrow, but today, I'll probably not finish the series. That doesn't mean this trilogy is bad, just that I have no personal desire to finish.

3.5 stars and recommended if you want a darker, meatier scifi.

Full Review:

Waverly and Keiran are 15 and 16 respectively, the oldest children on a ship headed for a new Earth. Problems start to arise when the second ship of their convoy, the New Horizon, appears and whisks away the girls (including Waverly). Keiran and Seth, the pilot's angsty son, must try to keep the boys alive and the ship running (withOUT adults), while Waverly discovers a nasty secret on board the New Horizon, led by Pastor Ann Mather.

I almost gave up on this one and would have were it not for a Goodread's friend's encouragement to keep it. So I found an audiobook (I read those faster) and added it to my 2014 challenge to weed through my huge TBR stack. I am really glad I listened to her advice, because this turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. In fact, it's a LOT better than most Young Adult offerings. To show why I liked it (and how it's better than most YA), please follow me with a nice list.

How "Glow" Succeeds Where Other YA Fails:

1) Teenagers act like teenagers. Waverly, Samantha, Felicity, Keiran, Seth, and more act like teenagers. They are afraid, smart, angry. They want their parents around to tell them that things will be okay. They want and do have sex. They can be brave when they need to be, but they also need to know that someone loves them. And some of them want to explore the world and NOT get married to the first set of abs their eyes set on.

2) The romantic triangle does NOT dominate the story. There is a Romantic Triangle, those hideous creatures that make me run in terror. But here, it doesn't make me cringe at all. Why? Because the author gets it; she understands the purpose of a Romantic Triangle isn't to dominate the story. It's in the distant background - something the characters think about when they don't want to think about how sh!tty life is. It also includes wildly different characters, none of whom are perfect. THIS IS HOW YOU DO ROMANTIC TRIANGLES, PEEPS.

3) The world doesn't fall apart when you gently poke at it. I'm not asking for a world in a Young Adult soft scifi novel to stand up to adult questions like, "How does the economy work?" and "How can the ship get to the nearest star so quickly?" I'm just asking for a bit more attention to detail than "Look outside, there are STARS!" No, the science isn't going to stand up to scrutiny, but at least it isn't going to fall apart on me as I read. Again, it's all about Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

4) The story is more than just romance at its core. I know this is closely tied to #2, but let me explain. This story is about survival: survival of the boys in the ship, survival of the girls, survival of the human race on these ships. We also have a really compelling discussion about the place of religion - when does it become bad? Is it always bad? Can it ever be good? Keiran gets invigorated from adhering to religion, while Waverly (suffering from the evils of religion personified in Ann Mather) flees from it. In my reading, neither are wrong and neither are right. (Though it could be argued that you are supposed to side with Waverly who thinks all religion is cultish and bad - understandable based on her horrific experience on the New Horizon.) Compare this with 90% of YA out there, which is generic "I want to love X, but I can't" or "I am super speshul, which boy should I fall in love with".

There is a lot to enjoy about this book, particularly if you want something meaty to discuss. But I don't think I'll continue.

Reasons Why I'm Probably Not Going to Continue This Series:

1) As a mildly religious person, I hate to see every religious person painted as a bad guy. Religion doesn't make a person evil; PEOPLE make themselves evil. Religion can give people an excuse to be horrible people (Westboro Baptist, anyone?), but you can't make a blanket statement saying "All people who believe in X are bad". (Unless you are Anne Rice, apparently...)

2) While this book was better than most YA, it wasn't compelling enough to make me want to seek the end.

3) I have SO MANY books in my to-read pile, and I don't own a copy of the sequels.

4) I wasn't a fan of Keiran, nor of the boys' story to survive on the Empyrean.

5) I thought it rather creepy and dark that the girls were violated as they were. Also, isn't it strange how they are wanted for their reproductive values and no more? While the boys fight to survive on a ship without adults who know what they are doing, the girls must fight to keep from being sexually violated. On one hand, it says a LOT about our society; on the other, couldn't we have a story where BOTH boys and girls must face the "Lord of the Flies" scenario, instead of shoving the girls into the stereotypical "We need you to make da babehs"?

This is not to say the book is bad; in fact, if you have a hankering for Young Adult scifi, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. And maybe one day when I have my to-read pile under control (HAHAHAHAHAHAAA!), I'll come back to this trilogy. But for now, I'll leave this series pleased, entertained, and enriched. 3.5 stars.
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Reading Progress

05/16/2013 marked as: dnf
02/19/2014 marked as: currently-reading
02/19/2014
1.0% "I'm starting to be charmed by this. I wasn't expecting that, but I'm liking how the teens are talking about sex, how Waverly and Keiran are dating (OMG!), and generally how they just feel like teenagers." 1 comment
02/19/2014
6.0% "OK, this girl gets bonus points because she's not just gonna sit back and marry this dude, even though she really likes him. *please book be good!*"
02/21/2014
9.0% "While it's weird that the old dude would hit on Waverly, I like that creepy old dude is portrayed as creepy NOT A F-ING LOVE INTEREST for a 15 year old."
02/21/2014
12.0% "I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this book is probably better than Beth Revis' "Across the Universe". I'm really glad I found an audiobook to give this book a second chance." 3 comments
02/24/2014
22.0% "Plus: Waverly has a female friend, Felicity! Minus: Felicity is a wimp. Eh, at least Waverly is written to be a decent female character."
02/24/2014
27.0% "I am seriously impressed with how much this feels like a scifi novel (but for the YA set) and how solid the world is. It really makes Revis' work feels even more shaky than it already was. (Sorry to keep comparing the two, but I can't help it - they came out around the same time and are both scifi.)"
02/24/2014
29.0% "OK, so it's a BIT skeevy, this premise. How basically all the men want to impregnate the womenfolk because their society is dying. A pretty hefty concept for a book, but a YA book? Is there any other plotline out there besides one that involves a dying race needing women to make new babies???"
02/25/2014
37.0% "Now to Keiran's POV. A shame, because I don't really care about him at all. Though the whole "we destroyed our women's uteruses so we need to steal the girls from another ship - oh, and we are religious, because all religious people are nut jobs" is a bit disturbing."
02/25/2014
41.0% "Yeah, Keiran is a moron. Though I did like the quote about him thinking of love triangles as a diversionary topic from the life-death situation he was in. Normally, I hate love triangles, but the romance here is muted and coupled with this quote, I am tolerating this a lot better than normal."
02/26/2014
57.0% "Back to Waverly, who is way more interesting. On a side note, while I, overall, like this book, isn't it funny how the GIRLS have been kidnapped and the BOYS must save them? That the girls biggest value is their untouched uteruses? That every woman wants babehs? I mean, yes babies are important for this race's survival and I know the ones reducing women's values are the evil people, but are there no other plots?"
03/02/2014
90.0% "Back to Keiran. I wonder if his spiritual leadership is supposed to be a contrast to Anne's nutzoidness? It's kinda weird to see such heavy-handed religious remarks. Also, is this book gonna end on a cliffhanger?? Not too pleased!!"
03/03/2014
92.0% "DOUCHE BAG ALERT!! Keiran gets p!ssy that Waverly didn't ask about Keiran's parents, in the middle of her being violated and having her eggs stolen to impregnate 18 other women. And he was actually not behaving too badly before - being nurturing and all. DON'T BE A DICK, KEIRAN."
03/03/2014
93.0% "OMG, THERE WAS SEXXXXX!!!! A YA book has the balls to make the characters have sex - and it's not unicorns farting roses and rainbows either! (Of course, it's also told very circumspectly in "flashback") *FAINTS*"
03/03/2014
95.0% "Epilogue?! Already?! I mean, at least most of the ends are tied, but now I'm agonizing whether I want to continue this series or call it good."
03/03/2014
96.0% "Just because religious nutzoid Ann Mather is bad, doesn't mean ALL religion is bad. Of course, I'm of the school that PEOPLE choose to be bad or good, religion just provides an excuse. I know some people really truly believe all religion is bad. Will this book prove that it's not religion, that it's people? Or will it make me ragey by making wide generalizations??"
03/03/2014
98.0% "OK, so I don't like how Keiran hasn't allowed due process (voting), but just because he ascribes to a religious belief, just because he is a religious leader and holds services, does NOT mean he's the leader of a cult!! And I don't believe he forces people to attend - that would be another major no-no. (Though I don't like how he doesn't honor Waverly's choice not to ascribe to his religious preference.)"
03/03/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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Nemo (Young Adult At Heart) That's a pity, I too found the first couple of pages not that great but by the time the ship is attacked I totally loved it. Oh well, different strokes. Hopefully the next book will be better for you.


Crystal Starr Light Nemo (the Moonlight Library) wrote: "That's a pity, I too found the first couple of pages not that great but by the time the ship is attacked I totally loved it. Oh well, different strokes. Hopefully the next book will be better for you."

Honestly, the only reason this is in the "DNF" is that I'm moving and trying to downsize. I did try to read this and MAYBE read a page or two. If you think I'd like it, I'll keep it! (I wouldn't mind an excuse not to get rid of a book ;) )


Nemo (Young Adult At Heart) It was mostly the protagonist I fell in love with. I thought she was amazing and strong and smart and totally kick-arse without being a Katniss. I remember the opening pages being boring, it was just Waverly and Kieren talking about their future and I had no investment in them. But Waverly is active, she (view spoiler)

But there are parts in the book where I can understand other people wouldn't like it. It does get a little slow at times.


Crystal Starr Light Nemo (the Moonlight Library) wrote: "It was mostly the protagonist I fell in love with. I thought she was amazing and strong and smart and totally kick-arse without being a Katniss. I remember the opening pages being boring, it was ju..."

Well, I'll pull it out of the "to sell" pile and find a place to pack it! Because hey, why not! :)


Nemo (Young Adult At Heart) I hope I made it worth it to you. I know our taste isn't always compatible but they are similar.


Crystal Starr Light You did!! And it's good to be aware that it can be slow, so I have motivation to push through! Thanks!!


Nemo (Young Adult At Heart) Also I should warn you that I probably liked it so much because I was heavily invested emotionally in this pretty horrible thing that happens. I mean I'm trying to get my point across in that I'm being totally subjective.


Crystal Starr Light Nemo (the Moonlight Library) wrote: "Also I should warn you that I probably liked it so much because I was heavily invested emotionally in this pretty horrible thing that happens. I mean I'm trying to get my point across in that I'm b..."

It's all good! I wouldn't like a recommendation or even a "review" if it didn't have some subjectivity behind it. I'll give it a shot; I've plugged through far worse (Anita Blake?? :) ).


message 10: by R.S. (new) - added it

R.S. Carter A friend sent me this once recently. I'm def going to give it a shot. Thanks for such a detailed review!


Crystal Starr Light RS, you are very welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it/found it useful!


message 12: by Brigid (new) - added it

Brigid So.....I like to listen to audiobooks when I work out. Would you recommend the audio instead of the physical copy?


Crystal Starr Light It's a decent "time waster" for sure. I can't say whether it's better than reading the physical version, but I listened to the audiobook at work and that worked fine for me.


Crystal Starr Light It's a decent "time waster" for sure. I can't say whether it's better than reading the physical version, but I listened to the audiobook at work and that worked fine for me.


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