Book Reviews

Review: “Glow,” Amy Kathleen Ryan

July 27, 2011

I received this book for free from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Glow,” Amy Kathleen RyanGlowby Amy Kathleen Ryan
Series: Sky Chasers #1
Published by Pan Macmillan on October, 2011
Genres: Sci-Fi
Pages: 307
Source: Pan Macmillan Australia

A ship heading for New Earth is halfway through its incredible journey across the galaxy. On board, sixteen-year-olds Waverly and Kieran are part of the first generation born in space.

They are in love. They believe their future is written in the stars. They have never seen a stranger before…

… until the day they are wrenched apart and suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives.

I drew a lot of comparisons between Glow and Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Though this book has some strong points and good moments, I would recommend the latter by Beth Revis if you only had to pick one sci-fi YA series to read. Glow fell short in a lot of ways and apart from one character I felt oddly unattached to anyone or anything during my reading experience.

First of all, I have to say that this is a dual-narrative. We hear from both Waverly and Kieran and their vastly different experiences aboard the Empyrean and the New Horizon. The voice changes about every five or so chapters and I guess it was necessary for the reader to engage in each scenario, but I definitely enjoyed Waverly’s portions of the book moreso than Kieran’s.

I won’t beat around the bush – I really disliked Kieran and found the relationship between him and Waverly to be seriously lacking. The book promotes the romance between the two, even saying on the front cover of my copy: “Her heart will determine the future”, but I found little that actually tied them together. The two had no chemistry and their ‘relationship’ took a backseat to the dangers and adventures described in Glow. I couldn’t help but wonder why a seriously strong character like Waverly saw anything in Kieran. She herself even wondered at times – especially toward the end, and I don’t blame her. I definitely didn’t want the two to end up together.

Let’s talk about Waverly. She was the only character (other than Samantha – I liked her, too) that I felt I connected with in some way. Everyone else annoyed me to no end, or felt like they served no purpose, but Waverly was something special. Perhaps the only reason I enjoyed Glow in the slightest was because of her. I really admired her strength and courage, and her determination not to back down and give-up when she knew something was wrong. I’m not sure I could have even finished the book without her.

I’m not a huge science fiction fan, so when space ships and whacky contraptions and gadgets come into the mix I’m usually wondering whether I should even bother or not. With Glow, I found myself struggling. At the start of the year I read Across the Universe by Beth Revis and was astounded how fun sci-fi could be, and how UN-BORING it could be to read! Unfortunately Glow reminded me of my initial hesitations in delving into the sci-fi.

There wasn’t exactly anything WRONG with the book, it’s just that it wasn’t for ME. I’m sure lots of people will jump in and enjoy it, but personally it felt a little too detached for my liking. There wasn’t any relationships I was cheering on, and things just kept taking a turn for the worst plot-wise… I didn’t see any conceivable solution for the characters, so I almost gave up right then and there. When things happened to people (particularly Kieran) I found myself not caring much, so pages were left unturned until I could pluck up the courage to open the book again.

Glow is the first in a new series, but I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest. Sure I want to know ‘what happens next’, but I’m not too invested that I’ll stick it out through another book or two. I’ll probably just satisfy my curiosity by reading some reviews or spoilers when the time comes.

Recommended to: People who won’t draw comparisons between Across the Universe and Glow will probably enjoy it more than I did.

About Amy Kathleen Ryan

Amy Kathleen Ryan is a graduate of the New School Creative Writing Program. She earned her MA from the University of Vermont, and her MFA from The New School in New York City. Amy Kathleen Ryan lives in Colorado.


  • Reply :: A Bookish Blog October 7, 2011 at 7:45 am

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  • Reply Cialina August 19, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Dang, sorry to hear that this one fell short for you. I’m still probably going to pick this one up since I did receive it at BEA, but my expectations definitely won’t be so high. I do like sci-fi though, but I wasn’t much of a fan of Across the Universe. Maybe I’ll end up liking this book a lot :P We’ll see!

  • Reply Jen August 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I actually liked that Kieran and Waverly didn’t seem perfect for each other. I’m pretty bored with seeing girls in YA in love triangles where the only thing they really argue about it the other person. Refreshing to see a young couple at odds about religion from start to finish.

  • Reply Briana @ Bree's Books July 29, 2011 at 2:38 am

    Hmm… I’ve heard mixed things on this one, so I’m interested to see whether I’ll like it or not.

    Great review! :)

  • Reply Alexis July 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I think I’ll stick with Across the Universe. Thanks for the honesty.

  • Reply Steph July 28, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Ack, that’s too bad. I just got a copy of this yesterday and now I’m going to put it at the bottom of my pile for now. AtU is still very fresh in memory and I’m nervous about the similarities.

  • Reply Ladybug July 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I own a copy of Across the Universe but I haven’t read it yet. I’ve discovered that I enjoy Sci-Fi but this on sounds to be lacking something that I want in my books. Thanks for your honest review.

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