Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Whole New Orbit

Glow (Sky Chasers)
Ever imagine what life would be life in a space shuttle, hurtling through space, living in a tin can... for decades? Well, if you aren't too sure what that would be like, you shouldn't miss Glow, the new book out by Amy Kathleen Ryan. But be prepared to get sucked in!

Waverly grew up on the shuttle. She doesn't remember earth, and the adults who left aren't too keen on talking about it. Probably because it was rapidly falling apart and their mission to find New Earth was the only hope they had of continuing their lives. On their ship Empyrean, they have full ecosystems, animals, and plenty to self-subsist for decades in order to reach their destination. But when New Horizons, the other ship that left much earlier, turns up on their radar, people get nervous. When the New Horizons adults break into Empyrean and steal all the girls, a deep and dark truth is revealed about both ships. The people on New Horizon are sterile, and they blame the captain of Empyrean. Now they must find a way to have babies and their only way is the girls from the other ship.

Kieran was in line to be the next captain. He was always a careful and good young man, but when Waverly and the other girls are taken, life on the Empyrean falls apart. Most of the adults were killed in the attack or left to chase New Horizons. The remaining adults sealed themselves in the engine room to prevent a nuclear meltdown, but sadly it means exposing themselves to deadly radiation in order to save their sons. Now Kieran and the other boys must run the Empyrean all by themselves, but a boy named Seth has other plans. Seth convinces the boys Kieran is to blame for all their loss. Now he wants to be the leader of the ship himself, but in order to do that, he must get rid of Kieran. Can Kieran get hold of the mess around him? What does the other ship have in store for the girls? Will they ever see each other again?

This was a really interesting deep space Sci-Fi story. It had multiple themes running, including the dystopia angle, the fertility issues and the lack of adults. The book alternates between parts, one sticking with Waverly on New Horizons and the other with Kieran on Empyrean. I really liked think alternation, giving the reader a chance to see both sides. The characters were so complex, you never knew whether you should trust them or hate them. This made the story enthralling. I couldn't put it down! The story is clearly setting up for a new series, but it didn't end on a cliffhanger. Much of the current issue was resolved, but there was enough room left at the end to continue easily. I liked the way the story played out, giving the reader mixed messages and keeping them hanging. Even the ships themselves were intriguing. They were so perfectly constructed and planned, yet they never thought to plan for sabotage. It is an interesting idea that someone would try to sabotage Earth's last hope of survival, but what would you do if faced with certain extinction?

The writing level is best for high skilled middle school through high school. The content is appropriate for a wide range of ages, and the story is exciting enough to keep just about any student connected. The ambiguity in the characters and the story will make for great discussion, not to mention all the talks you could have about what you would want on your own shuttle! Overall, this was a really interesting book with lots to talk about and lots to think about. There is an interesting religion element between the two ships and the people on the ships, bouncing between the strengths of spirituality and its faults, in particular the flaws and corruption of its leaders. I thought this was an interesting addition to the story, and certainly made the story more realistic. Even though this is technically science fiction, it won't bog down those kids who prefer realistic stories because it is really quite realistic. A diverse group of kids would be interested in this story. Not to mention adults! It's really that exciting!

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