Book Review : Glow: Book I, Potency

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review : Glow: Book I, PotencyGlow : Book 1, Potency on February 13th, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 620
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Source: NetGalley

The Maasai Mara Sleeping Syndrome has returned after a six-month hiatus. 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.

I never wanted to pick Glow: Book I, Potency up to read it and it was a sheer battle of will to just get through the novel. Glow : Book I, Potency suffers from severe pacing problems, flat characters, and cringy dialogue. Though the idea of the novel itself was interesting and obviously well-researched, its execution simply couldn’t save the novel.

The story follows 16-year-old Harper as a sickness, known as the Maasai Mara Sleeping Syndrome spreads throughout the world. This sickness renders the stricken in a heightened state of euphoria before they fall asleep until they die. This syndrome is what initially attracted me to the novel, but very little time is actually spent on it, despite being extremely well-researched. Instead, readers learn that the cause of the mysterious disease is aliens, and that they’re trying to wipe out the human race entirely.

Harper is soon captured by these said aliens and learns that she isn’t entirely human. She’s actually an alien-human hybrid. Most of the novel then deals with Harper trying to get used to her life as a hybrid, among other hybrids. And this is where things should get interesting, but instead they’re horrendously boring. Harper goes along with whatever comes her way–she doesn’t fight the alien’s brainwashing that all humans are evil, she doesn’t struggle to remember her life as a human as they make her forget, and she makes friends with two other hybrids and gets swept up in their plans for escape because she doesn’t have an original thought of her own.

To top it off, despite being an insanely flat character incapable of making her own decisions, Harper is the typical “special” main character. She has the titular ability to “glow” and can turn invisible and teleport, something that other hybrids cannot do. I never once found this exciting, despite how the ability is supposed to be amazing. I simply couldn’t get attached to Harper or any of the other characters at all. They just didn’t feel real.

Throughout the whole book, I never understood why Harper and her friends were even bothering trying to escape. The aliens feed them, give them jobs, and are actively destroying Earth. To put it simply, there is not a home to which they can even return. Plus, Harper and her friends don’t even look human anymore. What kind of welcoming would they even receive? The only explanations given for their drive to escape are vague and unconvincing. They say it’s because they have an inkling that the aliens have a sinister purpose for them, but it never comes to any fruition. So literally the characters are trying to escape on what amounts to a hunch. To me, this seemed silly and anticlimactic.

This isn’t surprising as most of the novel, is in fact, anticlimactic. Glow: Potency suffers from extreme pacing issues. For the majority of the novel, literally nothing interesting is happening. The readers follow Harper and her friends through extremely long and  tedious descriptions of their new homes and jobs with the aliens, or other things as mundane as exercising. On the rare occasion that I was not bored, I was faced with jarring moments of actions that completely threw me and made me think, “Wait, what just happened?” It seems there was either no action or too much, and nothing in between. In one instance, Harper’s escape from a quarantine zone is simply interrupted by a “Click.” Then a person is suddenly pulling a gun on her:

“Brett leads us over to the bicycle. ‘Harper you stand on the pegs. I’ll ride. We’re going to meet Mom with the car–’ His eyes stop on something. Click. I turn around. Behind us, Max stands rigid, his arm outstretched and his gun pointed at Brett. Even in the limited light, I can see the white of his eyes behind his face shield. ‘I changed my mind. I can’t let you do this, man,’ he says.”

Similarly off-putting is the rest of the dialogue of the novel. The author is clearly trying to use colloquial phrases of teenagers, but it comes off super cringey–like a parent who tries to be “hip” by using the slang of their children. Phrases like, “I got this. I got you, bae. Chill,” as well as, “don’t get pissed at me bro,” and “this sucks balls” are ubiquitous. A lot of this dialogue is used right on top of each other and it’s like being bombarded with try-hard attempts to make the teenagers seem realistic. I also was similarly off put in the very beginning of the novel by one of Harper’s teenaged human friends having a smoking problem and carrying a flask to soccer practice. All of it is clearly how the author thinks teenagers act, but she seems severely out of touch with the majority of them. This makes her main characters seem more like the actual aliens themselves then realistic people.

Another thing that irked me was that the new hybrids to the alien habitat were forced to go through a process called “Leveling,” in which the supposed worst parts of their life–some of it is fabricated–with humans are shown to all of the other hybrids. Then the anti-human propaganda is laid on thick. But this all seems really pointless as the aliens then turn around and make the hybrids forget all of their meaningful relations with humans–good or bad. This renders what is obviously supposed to be an extremely emotional event a complete and total waste of time.

I really wouldn’t recommend Glow: Book I, Potency to anyone, not even to die-hard fans of science fiction or young adult novels. Most of the book is either filled with long stretches of incredibly dull information, only interspersed by strange moments of short-lived action, weird dialogue, and flat characters that are impossible to relate to.

Book Review : Glow : Book 1, Potency - Blogging with Dragons

Posted January 18, 2019 in Book Reviews, Science Fiction, Young Adult

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