Friday, March 15, 2013

Spark review

by Amy Kathleen Ryan
St. Martin's Griffin
July 2012

First line: "Seth Ardvale wasn't aware of what woke him; he only remembered the fading dream of a rumbling sound that shook his bones."

In this sequel to Glow, Waverly, Kieran and Seth continue their adventures on the Empyrean - a generation starship designed to take colonists on a century long mission to a new planet. I was hoping for this book to be a lot like Across the Universe - but despite the love triangle there's a lot less romance.

Waverly has successfully brought the kidnapped girls back from the New Horizon, the uber-religious sister ship of the secular farming ship the Empyrean. Kieran has assumed command, and with Seth's attempted coup unsuccessful, Seth is in the brig.

Everyone's parents on the Empyrean have been kidnapped by Ann Mather, the charismatic leader of the New Horizon. That leaves the children of the Empyrean to run the ship as they try to catch up with the other ship that has their families hostage. I was kind of surprised by the fact that even though the oldest children on the Empyrean are 15 and 16 years old, they are all mostly overwhelmed. For the most part, their attitude seems to be, "I'm just a kid! I don't know how to... pilot a ship/be the captain/run a medical bay!"

Waverly is overtaken by her feelings of rage and is more than ready to wreak havoc on the New Horizon and take revenge for having been kidnapped and her eggs stolen by the infertile crewmembers on the sister ship. On a certain level, this made perfect sense. But on another level, I thought to myself, "Ladies, think this through." Do the girls on the Empyrean really want the human race to die out? Are they actually willing to bear all the children of the next generation all by themselves? That's a minimum of four children each, and hopefully more. And here's this other ship, with over a hundred surrogate mothers all of whom are delighted to carry pregnancies to term. Sharing their eggs just makes sense. Granted - the other ship should have asked. They should have taken the time to talk to the girls, and bring them around, not just drugged them, and taken what they needed without asking. That was rude. But at the end of the day, what else was going to happen?

I thought the book could have explored the religious questions more thoroughly. Kieran is religious, unlike most of the members of his ship. He puts together a weekly church service, and I was surprised that very little religion enters into his sermons, which are mostly pep talks about why he should continue to be captain.

This book is fairly gritty, as various characters have to survive near misses with air locks, piloting One Man mini-ships at zero g, freezing temperatures in the outer bays, etc. etc. They are mostly too bruised, tired and scared for any romance to happen.

Compare to:
Across the Universe - Beth Revis
The Comet's Curse - Dom Testa
Inside Out - Maria V. Snyder

I borrowed this book from the library.

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