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Quite a few months ago, my friend Andrea read an advanced readers copy of the book Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, and she LOVED it. Basically it was her favorite book she read all year and she can't say enough positive things about it.
So, she loaned it to our friend Tracy, who also loved it!
So, then, she loaned it to me. My reaction was more along the lines of: "Uh...okay"
It took me over a month to finish it, when Andrea and Tracy both read it in a matter of days, and after many weeks of processing the book, I still have no idea how to rate it.
Let's break it down shall we,
To start off, the story Glow is about two ships, the Empyrean and the New Horizon, they have left the Earth we know today behind so that they can travel through deep space (an 80 year journey) to arrive at New Earth. Along the course of the journey problems arise, one that leaves the people on New Horizon unable to conceive children. In order to quaruntee their own survival New Horizon commandeers the Empyrean, taking hostage all the young girls.
Was the book well written?
Yes, absolutely. That is to say at times I couldn't believe how intricately woven the story was. It was throughly detailed and extremely clever. But there were a few times where I felt the dialog was a little on the weaker side.
Was the story original and interesting?
With out a doubt, Yes! The basis of the story is heavily rooted in science fiction and yet I didn't feel that the entire book was a science fiction story. There are so many layers to the story that it is hard to say it fits into one genre. Plus, there are a ton of surprises and twists and turns along the way.
Did I like the characters?
This is the part that I really struggled with. I love books with great characters. Whether or not I love a novel is entirely dependent on there being at least one character that I can connect to. I don't have to love the main character but I need to at least like them, care about them, root for them. I do understand that this criteria isn't as important to other readers, but it is what I need to enjoy a book.
Now, Glow is told through the perspective of two teenagers. A girl named Waverly and a boy named Kieran. Waverly tells the story of what happens to the girls when they are taken aboard the New Horizon, and Kieran tells the story of what happens to those left behind on the Empyrean.
I really liked Waverly. When I was reading her parts of the story I couldn't get through it fast enough. Not just because I liked her, but also because the whole idea of being taken hostage only to be treated like a baby making machine is terrifing!!! Although, towards the end there were things that she did that left me scratching my head, and by the very end I found myself completely frustrated and irritated by her.
Kieran, on the other hand was like a teeter totter through out the whole book. I didn't like him from the beginning, then I felt sorry for him, then he started to get pretentious, but then he became a good leader. He also fought with this other guy, Seth, the whole book. Those scenes became a little too much like Lord of the Flies for my taste. I found it very easy to put the book down and walk away for a couple of days (weeks) when it came around to the boys' perspectives.
By the end of the book I did not like Seth, I wasn't too happy with Waverly, but I was rooting for Kieran.
Would I recommend the book?
Yes, I would. I would tell someone that the book is clever, unique, intriguing, and surprising. And because I was so perplexed by the book I would want to encourage others to read it just to see if they had the same issues as I did or not. Plus, I do think it is the mark of a truly deserving book to leave me, as the reader, questioning so much. This isn't the kind of book that you are going to forget about as soon as you close it, it lingers with you.
And so, now, what do I rate it...
I'm torn between a 3 or a 4.
4 because I really want others to read it and I do think it was clever.
3 because I didn't love the characters and because it was sooo easy for me to walk away from it at times.
But based on my own definitions given for my rating system, I'm going to have to go with...