Darker, Meatier Young Adult Science Fiction

Glow (Sky Chasers) - Amy Kathleen Ryan

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.