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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Glow (Sky Chasers)* by Amy Kathleen Ryan - young adult book review
Also by Amy Kathleen Ryan:

Glow (Sky Chasers)
by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Grades 8+ 320 pages St. Martin's Griffin September 2011 Hardcover    

Waverly is the oldest female teenager aboard the spaceship Empyrean, which is heading for a new life on a distant planet. She is happy aboard the shipóitís the only life sheís ever known, and she finds companionship with Kieran, the boy being groomed by the captain to take over the ship one day. But when the Empyrean encounters a sister ship, the New Horizon, they canít imagine the deep betrayals that are to come, and how far the leader of the New Horizon will go to protect her people.

The world that Waverly finds herself in as the book progresses is frightening. Real chills will move down readersí spines as the take in what she and her fellow Empyrean-mates are put through.

The world building in Glow is excellent, and Ryan does an incredible job showing how a tough situation can quickly degenerate into desperation. A real sense of fear permeates the novel, and readers will share that feeling as they watch this supposedly utopian society disintegrate around them.

Glow takes on many different moral issues, too many to really recount in a review. The most central, though, is that of religion, and whether it is a force for good or evil, a source of comfort or a tool for controlling others.

This debate is well-played through the novel, though the religious leaders that Ryan presents tend to be caricatures. She sets up some big questions that will lead into the second book, mainly about where the line is between the two extremes and what happens once that line is crossed.

The thing that Ryan does best in Glow is to create an atmosphere of uncertainty. Itís hard to separate the facts from the fiction; even though we see multiple points of view, the truth is distorted. Itís difficult to tell what is really happening, and the reader must rely on their own intuition and choose what to believe.

The characters in Glow are well-drawn. Waverly is strong and capable, though her limits are tested over and over again. She is easy to sympathize with, and itís easy to appreciate her intelligence.

Kieran is more frustrating. Heís clearly weaker than Waverly and looks to others for guidance. Heís not ready to be in control yet, and when power is thrust upon him, he handles it badly. It will be interesting to see how the politics between Kieran and his ship-board rival for leadership, Seth, play out, especially because itís unclear what Sethís motives are and what kind of person he is.

Glow is a well-written and engaging novel. Those interested in provocative fiction should definitely consider picking it up. It would make an excellent book club or group read, as it will leave you itching to discuss the issues within its pages. This thoughtful novel has me curious and impatiently anticipating the sequel.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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