Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis: Evie doesn’t have a choice.
One day she’s an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she’s a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer.
The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death.
And then there’s Jamie. irresistible. off-limits.
Review: It is books like Spark that are going to have to make me re-evaluate my “take it or leave it” attitude towards sci-fi!
I have often said that I am not a huge fan of science fiction. I am not a lover of science, and I don’t like it incorporated into stories in an unrealistic way, but Spark is a modern world sci-fi, with just the right amount of sciencey stuff in all the right places.
Evie is a normal girl who thinks that the hardest thing she has to deal with is her grief over her mother’s death and learning to live her life without her. After the death of her mother, Evie goes to live with her Aunty and try to regain any normalcy she can. And although this upheaval in her life is daunting, Evie has one thing that makes it a little easier: Kitty and James. Well, Kitty will make her life easier – James will just make it more complicated.
Evie and Kitty have been friends for years, building a friendship over the times that she visited on holidays. Evie is excited to be spending more time with Kitty, but then, there is her twin brother James. Over the years that Kitty and Evie became friends, Evie was falling for James. And after a humiliating experience a few years ago, Evie has been left embarrassed, angry and still harbouring feelings for the boy that she can’t have.
But her hidden feelings for James are the least of Evie’s problems. Evie will soon find out that although her world has crumbled around her, her life will change in more ways than she would have ever expected. She comes to learn that she lives in a world of genetic mutations which result in special, and sometimes deadly, abilities. And Evie is one of the people with this mutation!
And due to this mutation, Evie starts to change. Physically and emotionally. She suddenly has intense feelings of protectiveness of Kitty – and when I say intense, I mean INTENSE! Kitty learns that she is a “Shield”, a third generation genetically modified person who’s DNA calls for to protect a “Spark” – and her friend Kitty just happens to be her “Spark”. And since Kitty is a “Spark”, this means that there is a “Stray” out there trying to kill her. And so the hunt begins.
Evies transformation into a Shield is sudden, confusing, urgent and extreme. And I really do mean it is powerful. There were many moments when I thought “oh come on, these feelings of protectiveness are a bit extreme”. I actually likened it to insta-love (without the romance, and besides the fact that Evie and Kitty previously knew each other). But it was one of those sudden “I will die for you” mentalities that usually drives me crazy in books – and although Evie’s sudden compulsion to be near and to protect Kitty is overwhelming, this is exactly the point! It is a sudden change in her DNA, and she cannot control it… so therefore my annoyance at the sudden intensity of feelings is actually a result of exceptional writing (rather than cliché writing that produces this feeling during insta-love situations).
And then there is James. Well, the romance between these two is very cute. It goes from being forbidden to forbidden to forbidden – the dynamics and situation constantly change, but each change basically results in this relationship remaining forbidden all for different reasons. But I loved the romance. It felt natural (strong feelings are involved but not insta-love as there is years of history) and bittersweet. There are trials and tribulations throughout the relationship that make it all so much sweeter.
As with a lot of stories that involve super-powers, comes the super-hero complexities. And Evie has this in droves! Between her physical changes and abilities, her feelings and confusion, her suspicion and determination, Evie is one complex character in one complex situation! But it wasn’t only Evie that I loved. I actually adored all characters within the storyline, with all secondary characters being interesting, relevant and having their own complexities. I didn’t feel that any characters were place for convenience, even if they did play a minor role in the storyline.
The genetically modified of this world can basically be broken up into 3 groups – those that need protection, those that protect and those that others need protection from. Although this may sound rather simple, Rachael Craw has included some very interesting and unique aspects and possibilities to these groups of genetically unique people. There are layers of complexities involving their DNA, their roles and their feelings. There is a lot to take in during the story, especially about the Affinity Project, the control the project has on people (especially Sheilds) and the life-changing effects on those who have modified DNA. Along with a lot of technical terms, there are a lot of acronyms as well, and although some may feel overwhelmed by all the terms and information, don’t stress you don’t have to remember it all the first time you hear about it. Rachael later recounts the information as you need it, which helps the story flow. I know some people don’t like a lot in depth explanation (and let’s be honest, when it comes to science I don’t either), but I felt the attention to detail within this story was necessary. The backstory and flow on effect of past events is extremely well thought out, and due to this, the story is plausible. I appreciate that complexity of giving the reader as much information as they need to relate, understand and believe the story, but not providing so much information that it is overwhelming and distracting. But the complexity of this story is balanced with fun, laughter, sass, danger and action.
Spark is intense, intriguing, sassy, realistic, exhilarating, suspenseful and so, so good! The writing is amazing and the ending… well… I can’t say anything other than…. Interesting!
This book will whisper sweet nothings in your ear, like that you will be the best of friends (well that is what it told me)… but never fear – they aren’t sweet nothings at all – you will really become the best of friends! Even those who aren’t overly keen on science fiction stories will be drawn into and love this story! I am counting down the days until Stray – there were enough answers to keep you satisfied at the end of Spark, but there were so many things that need to be expanded upon… I just know that there is a lot more complication and excitement in store!!
Now a few side notes:
I really hope Stray results in Evie being able to control her swooning and fainting – it really is inconvenient to faint all time!
How amazing is the cover???
The cover for Stray (Spark, #2) is just as amazing!! And it looks fantastic next to Spark! Click here to see it.
There is a short story: Kill Switch (Spark 0.1).
And there is another one coming soon! Black Room will be free on iBooks on 31 July 2015.