Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan is the first book in the Sky Chasers series. For those who enjoyed Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, this book is similar in some ways but different enough to be worth reading.
Like that recent release, the setting is a huge ship taking survivors from a dying planet Earth to a new planet hundreds of years away. Generations are to be born on this ship.
The protagonists, Kieran and Waverly, are the oldest girl and oldest boy born on the ship. It is natural that they feel something for each other. Procreation is encouraged because the ship needs to be populated when it finally reaches its destination, so Kieran asks Waverly to marry him.
Waverly hesitates because she and Kieran are very different. His family is religious, a rarity on their secular ship, the Empyrean. The sister ship, the New Horizon, was the ship with the religious population. Her family is not religious. Waverly also feels uncertain that Kieran is “the one” for her even though she cares for him. Waverly needs time but time is running out.
When the sister ship attacks the Empyrean and kidnaps all the young girls, everything Waverly has learned is put to question. The religious leaders on the New Horizon have turned religious ideals upside down and have killed, imprisoned, and experimented on girls in the name of their “God.” Waverly also learns some truths about the leaders of the Empyrean which seem to make sense, even though she does not want to believe them.
Waverly is a strong character and a very likable one. She is a leader with strong morals, and teen readers will easily be able to identify with her. Kieran, on the other hand, is not such a strong character.
Seth, another character who was Waverly’s friend and still loves her, is Kieran’s nemesis. At first, the reader wants to like Seth as he is clever and in some ways smarter than Kieran. But he is morally weak — a great example of a character who is in that gray zone — he is neither all good nor all bad.
And that’s part of what makes Glow a good read. The characters who are developed — Kieran, Waverly and Seth — have flaws and make mistakes.
Because all the adults on the Empyrean were killed durimg the attack, the children on the ship are going to have to learn to work together if they want to survive. When the kidnapped girls manage to get back to the Empyrean, Waverly is shocked at the change in Kieran.
What also makes this book different than other stories about travelers on a huge ship going to a New Earth is the author’s religious commentary. Certainly religion can inspire people who are undergoing a difficult time, but religion can also be misused by unscrupulous people. And does the power that goes along with being the religious leader corrupt? That becomes a key question that will need to be addressed in the next books.
This book was reviewed from an advance review copy provided by the publisher.