by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Published by: St Martin's Griffin
on July 17, 2012
Source: bought from independent bookstore
Can you read book two without refreshing your memory on book one? There is recap of major plot points, but I was still a little lost on some of the backstory and characters.
My 99% spoiler free-summary of both books: In book one, fifteen year-old Waverly knows nothing except life on a spaceship. Waverly was born on the Empyrean which, along with sister ship the New Horizon, is headed to a distant planet after the collapse of earth. Repopulation is an important goal of the space mission, and Waverly has pledged to marry ship captain-to-be Kieran. Then the Empyrean is inexplicably attacked by the New Horizon. In the chaos, children are torn from their parents. Stubborn, opinionated Seth takes advantage of the chaos to assert control, and lead the crew of the Empyrean into a high-risk rescue mission.
In book two, the Empyrean is now almost completely populated by kids. Kieran has re-established control and locked up Seth. Just as Anne Mather, captain of the New Horizon, insists that she wants to negotiate peace, Waverly becomes convinced that a saboteur is hiding on the Empyrean. Estranged from Kieran, she decides to investigate on her own.
My take: At the outset, Glow seemed like a sci-fi romance and I really wasn't feeling the whole Waverly-Kieran relationship. But as I kept reading, I realized Glow was more of a sci-fi thriller -- well-plotted, with a whole lot of twists and turns. It's not dissimilar to Across the Universe, but darker in tone.
As book two in the series, Spark really hits the ground running. Once again, the plotting in this book really stands out. Multiple third person POVs aren't typical in YA, but the fact that Spark alternates between Kieran's, Waverly's and Seth's point of view worked well for the story. Since the three of them are all at odds and operating at cross-purposes, this narrative technique added a lot of suspense by allowing the reader to know what each of them was up to and why.
I also loved the fact that Amy Kathleen Ryan really delves into the moral implications of her characters' choices and shows the consequences of their actions. One character says:
"It's time for all of you to grow up. You might want some final showdown like in the storybook, but this isn't a storybook. This is war ... war doesn't have a happy ending."Ryan allows her characters to be complex and imperfect. There aren't obvious heroes and villains here -- or when you think there are, you soon change your mind. Spark centers around Kieran's struggle to maintain order on the Empyrean, and the concurrent search for the saboteur aboard ship. Seth, Kieran and Waverly are constantly butting heads in a way that made this feel way more interesting than the usual love triangle. When the devious Anne Mather (awesome female villain!) wants to negotiate peace, the kids have to decide how much they can trust her, and what they are willing to risk to be reunited with their parents.
P.S. Random question: why was the typeface in this book so TINY? I have great eyesight and don't need glasses, but as I read this book, I seriously felt like I was going blind. As a basis of comparison, Delirium, Mockingjay, and Clockwork Prince are set in 12 point size. Spark was in 9 point type. And there were a few lines in 7 point. I mean, I'm all for saving paper, but sheesh....
Edited to Add:
Okay, I was mostly kidding about the font, but St. Martin's Griffin reminded me about the audiobook version. You guys know how I love audiobooks! To listen to a sample of Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan on the Macmillan website, just click here!
I read one a couple of weeks ago (don't ask me to name it...I can't remember) that had a teeny-weeny font size, and I had to keep zooming the screen on every page. It wouldn't let me change the font size for the whole book. Very aggravating. I have 20/20, but I don't want to go blind reading something tiny just because I can.ReplyDelete
Anyway, thanks for this awesome review. I had mixed feelings about reading Spark because Glow never really sucked me in. It's rare that I don't like a SINGLE character in a story, so I was all set to give up on this series after only the first book, but you've made me reconsider. But hopefully they'll change the font size for the finished copies? :P
I can see where you're coming from. I can't say I felt deeply connected to any of the characters in book one, but the plot did draw me in. Not sure if it is the multiple POV or just the nature of the story, but still, I was riveted to the plot and really wanted to see what was going to happen next. I did begin to change my mind about some characters in book two.Delete
Oh, and forgot to say that this WAS a finished copy! So the tiny typeface is there to stay ;)Delete
I liked Glow okay but I didn't love it. It was dark and disturbing. I was angry and disgusted the entire book! I wanted to murder people. Not a healthy read for me. I am a little curious where it goes. Grrr that Mather lady! Don't trust her!!! She is pure evil!!! Like you said no character is perfect. I actually felt for both Kieran and Seth but found Seth more psycho. Kieran is too religious for me but I felt like he had the best intentions on reuniting the ship and keeping the kids together. I don't think in the first book he went Mather Lady crazy but maybe he does in Spark. I don't know. I'm weary of this. lolReplyDelete
You always make me laugh!!!Delete
It was a dark book, but I didn't mind that. I think Spark was a little less dark....
And if you murder someone from a book, I can break you out of jail -- I've read all the Vampire Academy books now :)Delete
Oh yay! Glad you're done with VA and now we can fully discuss it. Oh yes I would murder Mather. She is pure evil. The way they stole Waverly's eggs and impregnated like 20 women with them was disgusting. I'm glad Spark is a little less dark because I was seriously pissed all during Glow.Delete
I think its important for books to show moral and otherwise implications of characters actions. Often consequences are just skimmed over.ReplyDelete
Thanks for review.
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog
I wasn't that interested in Glow when I first saw it around so obviously the sequel didn't interest me much either. But actually it sounds pretty cool. I think I'll wait until the entire trilogy is out but I really want to give it a try now.ReplyDelete
Give it a try! Not sure when book three is coming out, but I'm definitely reading it.Delete
I was okay towards Glow but I still really want to read Spark! I'm glad it's a little darker than Glow, and the fact that there are alternative narrations :) That font size is also annoying to me, too! -.- Some PDFs I read on my Kindle have TINY font and my eyes are already damaged so I'm just sitting there going "I can't read this." I mean, I don't mind 11-12 point font, but 9 point font does seem a little outrageous o.OReplyDelete
I'm reading a book in Adobe Digital on my laptop right now and it's really small font. I'm realizing that a good font does improve my reading experience!!!Delete
I have Glow on my kindle and now I think I'll move it up my virtual TBR list. I like characters that all want opposing things and this one sounds like fun.ReplyDelete
I bet you'd like it -- let me know what you think!!Delete
Awesome review and LOL about the font size! That's really odd that it would be so small. I have been wanting to read Glow, but never got around to it. Maybe eventually haha!!ReplyDelete
I think you'd like it!Delete
i'm interested in this serie but i will perhaps wait a bit because i don't like cliffhanger so best to wait book3ReplyDelete
I know -- those cliffhangers!!!Delete
This is honestly a series that hasn't been much on my radar, but now I kind of want to read it... on one of my ereaders- I don't like tiny print! I don't like to strain my eyes if I don't have to.ReplyDelete
Love that you can adjust the font on an e-reader!!Delete
Aww that's a bummer that the font was so small! At least you enjoyed it :)ReplyDelete
I got used to it!Delete
Wow that is small font. That's not very nice of the author but this series does sound good. I have Glow on my kindle app and I'm glad I don't have to wait for the second book to continue the series.ReplyDelete
Ooh, let me know what you think !!Delete
Oooh...Why doesn't the cover look as cool as the one for Glow? ((Speaking of: Have you seen the international cover? I think it's the UK/Aussie one...gorrrrgeous. For Glow, I mean, haha))ReplyDelete
Back to review...I've got Glow on the Kindle & have been meaning to read it. Good to know the 2nd installment is already available - I hate waiting ;o) LOL! I loved Across the Universe, so looking forward to seeing what this series (trilogy?) is like :o)
I agree with you that the Aussie cover is gorgeous. There was a cover design change between the Glow hardcover and the Glow paperback and the Spark hardcover. While I think the Spark cover isn't quite as beautiful as the Glow Aussie cover, it does fit the story better. I liked the original Glow cover, but it was a little similar to the Matched cover.Delete
If you're curious and love talking covers, compare these to the cover above:
Aussie cover of Glow
Glow old cover
Glow new paperback cover
Yeah, the US hardcover for Glow definitely has Matched similarities. I'd missed the paperback redo -- yeah, that matches Spark better than the original cover I had in my head, haha ...Delete
I'm like, in love, with a lot of UK/Aussie covers for books -- so many of them have either a fun artsy drawn style, or crazy colorful and quirky...Glow's makes me swoon -- very similar to the original Across the Universe and A Million Suns covers! ((Those redesigns make my heart hurt a little, not even gonna lie...)) :O)
Ah, cover drooling...
The cover for Spark kept reminding me of something. Then it just hit me. When I was a kid, the movie theater used to show dollar movies in the summer. Mostly really old Disney movies from the 60s and 70s, like That Darn Cat. Anyway, the Spark cover reminds me of this:Delete
Escape From Witch Mountain
I have to say SPARK sparks my interest way more than GLOW ever did. Great reviewing!!ReplyDelete
The tiny typeface is a turn off though.
Well, I got used to it. Don't let that stop you!!!Delete
I really want to read Glow! But not sure if I love my sci-fi's? But great review Jen! And I hope the small font didn't bother you! I really hate small font books but on my e-reader I can always change that!ReplyDelete
Give it a try!! It's not super-sciencey.Delete
"Ryan allows her characters to be complex and imperfect. There aren't obvious heroes and villains here -- or when you think there are, you soon change your mind." YES. This is one of the things I LOVED about Glow. That and the super fast-paced action! But mostly the complexity, and the fact that no one is really good or bad...ReplyDelete
I can't wait to read this. I've been buying too many books lately, but I just HAVE to have this one! Hmm, maybe once I'm done with my YA contemp binge I'll be able to afford it. ;) Great review, Jen!
And that's weird about the font... I don't remember Glow being in tiny font. How strange!
Well, there's even more of the characters moving between "good" and "evil" in this book -- loved it!Delete
Yes, I don't remember the font being tiny in Glow either. I usually don't even notice stuff like that, honestly.
St. Martin's is known for small print, I don't know why, but yeah, you definitely have to squint to read them. :PReplyDelete
also, I really loved Glow and am needing to get Spark ASAP. I love your review--I haven't read much reviews for this book, but yours makes me want to jump up and run to the nearest bookstore. Which would mean I would be running for a while because I live in the middle of nowhere.
great review, darling!
(also, I am dropping out of vladass. my computer still isn't working! it's frustrating, but um last week instead of doing anything productive I read the rest of the series and even The Golden Lily. O__o)
Hmm. Haven't read this series. I will probably wait until all the books are out since it doesn't seem to be a book you loved - just really liked. I like at least 10 sized print. It just makes it easier to read. Congrats on finishing VA.ReplyDelete
Great review and thanks for sharing recapp of book one, i need to add both to my list. I like that it is a sci-fi thriller.ReplyDelete