The Empyrean is the only home fifteen-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran, will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he's the best choice. Still, there's a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.
Suddenly, Waverly's dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable--a violent betrayal by the Empyrean's sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon's leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and they find themselves at the helms of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.
This book is one of the craziest I've read recently, and I mean that in the best way possible! Glow is sci-fi lite, which is my favorite kind. By that I mean the setting is space and the technology is advanced, but the mechanics of how the future works are not the point of the story. People are!
And wow, the people that make up the passengers and crew of Empyrean and New Horizon. Ryan doesn't shy away from digging into her characters and letting both their nobility and their skeeziness shine through. She made me sad when a child-beating, sexual predator died! How is that possible?
The thing I loved most about this story is it's delving into religion. At first glance, it seems like all religion is evil, an opiate to the masses and a cloak for nefarious deeds. But. I believe Ryan is doing something more subtle and more awesome. In the characters of Pastor Anne and Paster Kieran, I believe we are seeing the difference between using religion as a weapon and using religion as a means of giving hope. Yes, any time one person has control over a large group of people, there is the potential for corruption and evil. But it doesn't have to be that way! I can't wait to see how more of this plays out in the sequel.
I haven't even gotten to the characters! I loved Kieran. He is a quintessential good boy. I would totally have him for my captain even though he's only sixteen. And Seth. *shudder* I don't know if a character has ever made me so genuinely disturbed. I never know what to expect from him! He's a damaged, angry young man, for sure. But I just....is he only out for himself? Does he honestly believe his horrible actions are for the best? I can't tell!
And Waverly. Oh, Waverly. You basically experience everything awful that could ever happen. Through her story, Ryan explores sexism and the idea of women=uteruses. (This book covers a lot of ground! It's so impressive!) Waverly is a strong young woman who fights against lies, who is willing to undergo massive injury, physical and emotional, in order to save others. I love her.
Five out of five grav bags.
Release Date: September 2011
Reading Level: Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL RYA