Book Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Series: Sky Chasers, #1
Publication Date: September 13th 2011 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: |

Summary: What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you’d been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth’s collapse, the ship’s crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader’s efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don’t know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them…

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren’t all from the outside.

Review Overview:

  • Religion is an important theme in GLOW but the book isn’t preachy
  • I felt disconnected with the characters, but that has nothing to do with the fact that the novel is told in third person
  • I’m definitely interested in continuing the series

A thrilling space adventure that is often compared to Beth Revis’s Across the Universe, GLOW is a thought-provoking science fiction novel that is a great addition to the young adult genre. I love science fiction and I’m really happy that it’s finally – albeit, slowly – gaining popularity in YA. I read a bit of mixed reviews from GLOW so I wasn’t expecting much, but I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would.

I really love the theme of religion in GLOW. I’m not a very religious person, but it definitely made me think of the impact of religion in a society. Religion is important to the plot of GLOW but one does not have to be a religious person to enjoy the book. Religion was the deciding factor that determined which ship a person ended up in: the Empyrean (non-religious) or the New Horizon (religious). GLOW made me think of why religion starts, what it does for a society, and why it is important and sometimes necessary. GLOW isn’t preachy at all, and it definitely gives insight to both positives and negatives for religion.

My major complaint with GLOW is the characters. I thought that the premise was interesting and the plot was engaging, but I had a hard time enjoying the story because I felt disconnected to the characters. I think my problem was the fact that I didn’t know who to trust. GLOW is written in third-person, alternating between Keiran and Waverly. I usually blame my disconnection with the characters to the point of view, but not in this case.

Keiran Alden is technically supposed to be the protagonist, but couldn’t sympathize with him. I felt that as the first born on the Empyrean, he had lived a much more privileged life than the others, and I just didn’t like that about him. It’s not his fault, of course. On the other hand, I really wanted to like Seth. I like his interactions with Waverly, but I didn’t understand how he could be so mean. I sympathized with his character, but I didn’t understand any of his actions. I do like Waverly’s character. She might not be physically strong, but she’s mentally fit. She’s clever and I love that she is determined never to give up.

GLOW‘s audiobook is narrated by Ilyana Kadushin and Matthew Brown. Like the novel, the two voice actors alternate narrating the story. Since the point of view is third person limited, the narrators are not exactly the “voice” of the characters. However, the story itself provides many opportunities for the actors to portray Keiran and Waverly’s voices through the dialogue. Both Kadushin’s and Brown’s narrations are rich with emotion.

One complaint, however, is that the amount of characters in GLOW makes it difficult to differentiate between one voice from another. Brown does alter his voice slightly in between characters during a conversation, but sometimes it is hard to tell when one character stops speaking and when another responds. Furthermore, as much as Waverly is my favorite character, I did not like the way she was portrayed in the audiobook. Just from the way she talked, I couldn’t help but feel as if she sounded a bit dumb. I thought that when she was first introduced by Brown in the first chapter of the audiobook that it was just because it was read from Keiran’s perspective, but that wasn’t the case. In the following chapter, Kadushin similarly portrayed Waverly in that manner. She sounded less confident and unsure of herself than I first imagined her to be.

The premise of GLOW was fantastic, and I can actually see myself continuing the series. There are many questions left unanswered in GLOW, but the ending wasn’t very much of a cliffhanger so I felt satisfied upon completion. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of science fiction. As to whether or not the print or audiobook version is better, I think I would have to go with the print version this time around. I think audiobooks work a lot better from the first person perspective.

If you really want me to compare it to Across the Universe, I’ll say this: I’m not a fan of Across the Universe and I definitely enjoyed GLOW a lot more. Predictability-wise, there were some things that I didn’t see coming. Romance isn’t that big of a deal as it was in Across the Universe which was great. GLOW has a lot more meat to it because it actually made me think.


Other Reviews:
Nice Girls Read Books
Small Review

About the Author

Amy Kathleen Ryan earned her MA from the University of Vermont, and her MFA from The New School in New York City.

Find the Author

Website | GoodReads


  1. You’ve given me a better idea of what to expect from Glow – thanks! I really like the sound of the religious aspect, and the fact that it’s thought-provoking, not just focused on the romance.

  2. So good to hear that religion plays a role instead of just relying on romance, though with skimpy characters I’m not sure the romance would have held up anyways. Not that I want to force another comparison, but I was wondering if you’d read The Comet’s Curse by Dom Testa? I think it’s similar to both Across the Universe and potentially Glow.

    Incidentally, is there any reason why this is called GLOW?

    1. I actually have Comet’s Curse on my bookshelf but I have not picked it up. It does sound similar and I’ll let you know if I ever get around to reading it.

      … Wow, I usually figure out the connection of titles to the book, but in this case, I have no idea. I can probably BS a reason – Glow because the whole book happens while they’re flying through a nebula and the “sky” is glowing? LMAO. No clue. :bleh:

  3. Yay, I’m glad you enjoyed this one! I just received Glow, and I can’t wait to start reading. I’ve also read some mixed reviews, and I’ve heard it compared to Across The Universe as well. I’m glad the religious aspect isn’t too preachy, and I can’t wait to be kept guessing with all of its twists and turns! Thanks for the great review!

  4. I’m really glad it isn’t preachy. I have zero problems with some religious elements in books, but I hate when they try to shove things down my throat — especially when they’re so completely the opposite of my own ideas. This sounds like a solid read so I’ll definitely have to pick it up!

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