01/11/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Macmillan Children's Books. 385 page small enlarged paperback. Price:GBP 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-330-53558-8).
check out website: www.panmacmillan.com
The theme for ‘Glow’ is actually quite an unusual Science Fiction plot for the youth market. Two starships, several years apart, are heading towards a new planet to colonise. Except the first one, New Horizon, suddenly comes back towards them and attacks the Empyrean. Their objective is they need children as their own in-flight breeding programme hasn’t worked. They take the girls but not the boys and attempt to convince them that their starship was in trouble and that it was just a rescue mission. Compared to this revelation, the budding relationship between Waverley and Kieran, now split by distance, seems like a minor point.
On the New Horizon, with most of the adult crew dead or badly injured, the male teen-agers left end up in a ‘Lord Of The Flies’ scenario and a leadership challenge against Kieran by Seth. Kieran is imprisoned and starved but refuses to refute any decisions he made. It won’t be much of a spoiler to point out he wins out and as a nascent captain has to pull them together from the mess Seth has made by his gun rule. Ultimately, he uses faith in God to give them something to hold onto.
On the Empyrean, Waverley discovers that they’ve been lied to and not only is the New Horizon likely to have survived but the seven girls’ parents are also on-board as well. To add to the woes is that the majority of the crew aren’t aware of what the puritanical leader, Anne Mather, has let them in on what has been going on, especially as the girls’ eggs are surgically removed to provide the woman on-board with fertile eggs.
They succeed in escaping back to the Empyrean but Waverley, having seen Mather’s use of religious control is not happy with what Kieran is doing himself.
About the only thing I did find odd was the number of boys to girls was extremely uneven on the Empyrean but I was counting and I’m sure author Amy Kathleen Ryan has an answer for that. I do think that there should have been more given to the size of these starships and the adults running them before things changed if only to give some measure of scale and how they handled problems. At least that way there would have been a greater appreciation of what the teen-agers have lost than only being told about it.
Although I’m not sure what the title ‘Glow’ has to do with the story, this is actually a very good novel which works beyond the young adult market. Just as when you think you know where the novel is going, Ryan twists it in another direction and avoids the expected clichés. Interestingly, I don’t think Ryan is on a religious crusade but showing the dangers of putting too much reliance on it. If this is the opener then it will be interesting to see where it will lead next.
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