REVIEW: Girl Under Glass by Monica Enderle Pierce

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction/ Science Fiction/ Apocalyptic Fiction, Pages: 277 (eBook), Level: Easy/Intermediate

Book Description from Goodreads:

What do you do when you’re trapped between death and the devil? To protect her young daughter from a madman and a tyrant, Rachel Pryne must trust an enemy- one of the alien warriors who conquered Earth.

It is 2032, the Ohnenrai- Earth’s humanoid alien conquerors- orbit the planet, and Terran reproduction is failing. Rachel Pryne, a trained medic, is struggling to protect her seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, from the sexual predation of their penal colony’s leader. Having fathered the girl by rape, he now intends to take her on her eighth birthday, only six weeks away.

Then Rachel finds her unlikely champion- an injured Ohnenrai soldier who appears in her yard one stormy evening. She knows she may be choosing death over the devil in trusting this warrior, but she doesn’t know that her trust, and her DNA, will make her one of the most important and endangered people to ever set foot aboard an Ohnenrai starship.

Equal parts science fiction, suspense, and romance, Girl Under Glass moves from a post-apocalyptic wilderness in the American Pacific Northwest to a high-tech world aboard an alien starship furnished with all the stolen comforts of Earth. Readers meet Rachel Pryne, whose parents’ lifelong and life-ending connection to the Ohnenrai has set her upon a path she never wanted to travel. And they’re introduced to Ehtishem, an Ohnenrai soldier who exists to save his dying people, but who faces enemies from within and without his own military.

The only possible solution to the Ohnenrai’s extinction lies within Rachel, but all she wants to do is protect her daughter and see Earth’s alien conquerors go straight to hell.

This is going to be a long one…

An alien race known as the Ohnenrai came to earth. Religious fanaticism increased as a result and One Hundred days of terrorist attacks ensued. The Ohnenrai stepped in and took over by force, restricting the remaining humans to penal colonies. One of those colonies is Suffer, where Rachel Pryne and her daughter Pearl reside. While still living inside the penal colony, she is cast out of the puritanical community as a result of her sinfulness, although in reality, she was raped. Forced to live on the outskirts, Rachel still has some interaction with the community and provides medical care to some members in exchange for supplies. When an injured Ohnenrai soldier appears on Rachel’s doorstep requesting medical assistance, Rachel’s life takes a drastic turn and leads her into a personal mystery that will change her life and perception of the Ohnenrai.

Let me begin by saying I enjoyed this book and gave it 4 out of 5 stars. I would normally save that for last, but I am concerned that some will read this review and question whether or not I liked it. My ratings are always based on how much I enjoy a book. I don’t reduce my rating because of typos, a historical error or because the explanation of how a faster than light speed spaceship is portrayed inaccurately due to flaws in the descriptions of astrophysical engineering (does that even exist?). If these things do not hinder the enjoyment factor, I don’t really care. Note: Other than a typo here and there, there are none of the above mentioned issues in this book.

Girl under Glass is a love story. Alien love story? Apocalyptic alien love story? Whatever it is, it worked for me. It was written well and I got into it.

Now to the nitty gritty. Based on the book, I am going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was the classic novel that had the most impact on Pierce. You be the judge:

  • The main character’s name is Rachel Pryne and her daughter’s name is Pearl.
  • Rachel and Pearl live in a puritanical community that has shunned them due to Rachel’s sin (although Rachel was actually raped).
  • Rachel and Pearl live on the outskirts of the community.
  • When Rachel and Pearl go inside the community, people look the other way and make their children keep a distance.

A sci-fi Scarlet Letter? One word of caution at this point- Rachel is blasphemous at times and frequently uses the name of the Lord in vain. If that bothers you, you will be bothered often. However, there are some really good quotes: “Religion is a method of control, quite effective if done correctly… And destructive, when done incorrectly…” That’s a great topic for discussion. I could easily come up with a dozen more; here are a few:

  • Why would the arrival of an alien race result with increased religious fundamentalism?
  • How would the arrival of an alien race force the religious to reassess their beliefs?
  • Why would different religions all of a sudden begin to attack each other?

Which brings me to MY question- Why are there no discussion topics on the book’s Goodreads page? Someone should really step up…

Moving right along… There were portions of Girl under Glass that reminded me of other novels and movies besides The Scarlet Letter. The Ohnenrai suppressing emotions reminded me of the television series V. One of the scenes involving the alien race that is hunting the Ohnenrai reminded me of the Tom Cruise remake of War of the Worlds. The leader of Suffer, Cyrus, gave me flashbacks of the Gary Oldman character in the movie The Book of Eli. The whole setup of the humans, either as penal colony inhabitants or slave laborers, was a bit reminiscent of the John Travolta movie Battlefield Earth (I have not read the L. Ron Hubbard novel). I am not suggesting that Pierce ‘borrowed’ any of these themes; I am simply conveying my reaction to Pierce’s story. Remember, I gave the book 4 stars and these were scattered scenes; I did not read the whole book in a constant state of déjà vu.

In my opinion, Pierce does a great job at character development. I absolutely loved Ehtishem, the stranger at the door and main Ohnenrai in the story. I actually enjoyed almost all of the characters, even the bad ones. On the other hand, I did have mixed feelings about Rachel. I really liked Rachel at the beginning of the book, but about mid-story, I was convinced that she is bi-polar. I understand that she has been through a lot and has been traumatized over and over, but the frequency and speed of her emotional about faces gave me whiplash. In addition, while I understand that she hates the Ohnenrai, the rudeness and smart-alec, profanity laced insults made her look like a spoiled brat. I admit I wanted to slap that Rachel on occasion. In all fairness, she sometimes felt remorse and once even apologized after one of her verbal attacks.

Then there is the Ohnenrai language. As you may have noticed, I have tried to carefully word my review so that I do not have to attempt to figure out the correct form of Ohnen-whatever although I am sure I failed miserably. For those of us who are alien language challenged, there is a glossary in the back of the book. I go back and forth on whether or not I like the use of the different language. Sometimes I thought it provided a little more ambiance and at other times I thought it was unnecessary. But it didn’t affect my attitude toward the book as a whole nor will it in any subsequent books.

I think my favorite part of the book was when we got a better look into the Ohnenrai society. Most of that is within the military, but you get a snippet of the regular little people, or rather, aliens. I hope that is a teaser and we get much more detail later. Hint, hint.

Finally, there is the occasional humorous interaction: “You always have something to teach me.” “Because you’re stupid as stone.” That got a chuckle out of me.

If I remember correctly, Pierce intends to tell this story over the course of three books. Might I make a suggestion? At some point, I would like to hear the events that predate Girl under Glass, possibly in a prequel. I imagine a book going back and forth between Terrans and Ohnenrai because both stories sound fascinating. I want to hear the details of why the Ohnenrai decided upon Earth, the religious fanaticism that resulted with their arrival, what happened to all the atheists and scientists during that period, the Hundred Days of terrorist attacks, the shift in Ohnenrai leadership, the establishment of Suffer, the events leading up to Pearl’s birth, etc. I think all these details could provide many more discussion topics.

In conclusion, I thought Girl under Glass was a good book; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to the sequels.

Reviewed by Christina

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