Somewhere in a murkey nebula, two ships are bound for earth, decades into their mission. Fifteen-year-old Waverly lives aboard the Empyrean, and is of the first generation of children conceived in space. The large farming vessle is all she knows, and like most teenagers, she's consumed by friends, family and her handsome boyfriend Kieran, the ship's captain to be. When Kieran unexpectedly proproses, Waverly is thrown for a loop. But before she can make a decision, everything changes.
The Empyrean is attacked by their assumed allies aboard their sister ship New Horizons. Violence errupts, people die before her eyes, and all of the girls aboard the ship are taken to New Horizons. The population of New Horizons has been unable to conceive children, and they need the girls in order to preserve their society. Waverly knows that something isn't right aboard this ship, and is determined to escape. But what she will soon realize is that sometimes the enemies aren't all from the outside.
In this riveting series debut, Amy Kathleen Ryan has created a pulse-pounding and complex world. While initially the good guys and bad guys seem clear cut, as the story progresses, the lines become substaintially more blured. Life aboard the Empyrean is peaceful, and it's what Waverly knows, but lately she finds herself questioning her role. Girls are essentially duty bound to marry and have multiple children to preserve their mission, but despite the urgings of those around her, she isn't sure if she's ready, and if Kieran is who or what she wants.
Kieran is handsome, intelligent, and will someday be the ship's captain. They've grown up together, and it seems entirely natural that they'd end up together. But then there's Seth. Quiet, mysterious Seth, and son of the ship's first officer, and Waverly can't help thinking about him. But before you start thinking that this is a space love triangle, this is where everything gets so wonderfully complicated.
After the attack, the novel really becomes two stories. That of Waverly and the girls, and Kieran and the boys, and neither one is pretty. The girls are immediately met by Pastor Anne Mather, who is the ship's self-proclaimed spiritual leader and captain. Readers quickly discover that Pastor Mather is a dangerous spin-master who has her people and many of the girls believing different stories about what really happened to the Empyrean. The thing is, while her actions seem evil, they weren't entirely without justifcation. Whether or not the end justifies the means is another story, and one with which Waverly wrestles.
Meanwhile, on board the Empyrean, everything takes a very Lord of the Flies kind of turn as the boys try to save their damaged ship, rescue the few adults who are still alive, and keep some semblance of order. Kieran knows the boys are looking for someone to take charge, and he does, but can he fully justify the consequences of his choices?
There is no graphic violence, sex or swearing in this novel, and while the themes are complex, I would have no qualms about giving this to mature students in middle school who are fans of the genre. Book two isn't due out until at least next year, but you certainly won't forget this one in a hurry.
Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.