This time, it’s popped up in New York, and it’s wiped out an entire homeless shelter.
The same night of the outbreak, Harper, a seventeen-year-old girl, stumbles across a glowing figure in the desert outskirts of her neighborhood.
As her suburb goes on lockdown, Harper finds herself isolated from her friends and family, and soon begins to suspect that the events—though thousands of miles apart—may have something in common.
Harper must find her bravery and embark on a plot-twisting adventure that will have her looking for answers in unexpected places… and worlds.
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About the Book
by Aubrey Hadley
Potency Book One
Ruby & Topaz Publishing
July 16, 2019
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This book was an enjoyable read, and one that I’m sure will appeal to many readers, young adult or not. The beginning of the novel, however, is a little rocky. Harper’s initial characterisation, back story and family dynamic is pretty close to every YA heroine you’ve read before— she fights with her (unbelievably restrictive) mother, babysits for cash and wants to hang out with her friends as much as possible.
Harper’s response to the figure she sees in the desert also reads as shallow and unbelievable. She panics and overreacts to a ridiculous extent after reading a single post online—for a book marketed to a generation that grew up with the internet, it reads as either condescending or out of touch. Her plan to escape is poorly thought out-and-out of character, and is foiled so easily it seems strange that it was included in the novel at all.
The plot picks up at last with the outbreak of the Sleeping Syndrome, though the tone of the novel switches from light YA to classic horror with a restricted location. Max was an odd character, that seemed to have been set up that to have more significance in the plot. An abundance of details in this section bring the setting alive, but none of it has any real impact long-term.
The introductory ‘life before’ section of Glow is too long. It throws the reader off their stride and leaves you wondering if Harper is ever going to get interesting. The scene in which Harper babysits is entirely unnecessary, and in the interactions with her friends, Harper fails to shine. When Harper wakes up in the custody of aliens, she finally develops a backbone and the plot picks up. Harper develops as a character, and her relationship with her family is revealed a little, making her back story more believable.
Rubaveer and Adam were among the best characters in the book. In fact, the book was filled with nuanced and interesting characters that could be explored further. The problem, then, was that there wasn’t enough time for all of the characters to be developed. This is the first book in the series, however, so perhaps Arl, Vulgan, Max, Tamera, Jane and some of the other intriguing characters will become more important in later books. The Masaii Mara Sleeping Syndrome also has the potential to be explored in greater depth, though there were a few moments in Glow that were reminiscent of Mira Grant’s Feedback, or even the Parasitology series by the same author.
A lot of the world building and plot resolution in Glow occurs when people tell Harper things straight up, so if ‘telling not showing’ is a pet peeve of yours, this book may not be for you. Harper’s abilities also seem a little bit unearned and almost too much for the plot at times, her physical changes in particular being rarely mentioned and serving little purpose other than cementing her changed circumstances.
The scenes of human cruelty included in this novel were meant to provide motivation for key plot events, and while they did that, the almost casual way so many brutalities were mentioned and described weakened the impact somewhat.
Most of the complaints up to this point have been minor issues—rough edges easily excused when you consider that this is the author’s first book. The only thing that truly impacted the readability was the odd pacing. The introductory section dragged, and from a quick glance at the Goodreads reviews—a number of readers gave up before they passed this section. The ending is likewise oddly protracted, and the book in generally seemed as though it would be improved by a more tightly woven plot.
However, Glow was an engrossing read once Harper and the world Aubrey Hadley built had a chance to come together. In particular, the relationships and believable responses Harper had to the people in the Canopy, and the relationships and interactions between side characters were a high point. Adam and Jacqueline interacted well, Arl and Vulgan were well-written and interesting, and Rubaveer was a true pleasure to read.
The world building was consistent, and numerous small touches worked together to both hint at the sinister nature of the villains, and subtly add to the differences between the world of the Potency series, and our own.
All in all, Glow could be more refined, but is definitely worth the read. Aubrey Hadley is a skilled author who has the clear potential for amazing, engrossing fiction. Glow was a quick, enjoyable read that I would recommend to fans of the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, or James Dashner’s Maze Runner series. Those who enjoyed Justin Cronin’s The Passage would also do well to consider reading this book, available July 16th of this year.
The review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All titles reviewed on this blog are a fair and honest assessment of the book. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this review. For more information regarding our review process, please visit our Review Policy & Review Request Submission page.
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