You know how you feel when you find a book that’s got everything you want as a reader but is still totally different to anything else you’ve read? The feeling might be hard to remember because it rarely happens. But that’s how Spark affected me.
From the very first page the reader experiences absolutely everything Ev (Evangeline) does, not only her emotions, reactions and relationships but every single body zap and zing. It’s a very physical immersion for the reader. Ev’s body is alive with energy. She’s a Shield, the third generation offspring of a defunct DNA project which aimed to create superior military assassins.
She’s not alone. In addition to other Shields, the project also spawned descendants who are Strays and Sparks. The genes have not been distributed evenly. Shields have the “good” genes, driven to protect. Strays have the “bad” genes. Sparks are innocent bystanders in the middle of this conflict. When their DNA sparks the activation of the Stray as a ruthless single –minded killer, they become its target. Shields are also directly connected to Sparks. When the Spark activates a Stray, its Shield is its only protection.
No-one wants a first time Shield. They always fail. They need a few Stray encounters to learn their new skills. Ev is a newly matured Shield. Untrained. Her first Spark isn’t a stranger, the way it usually happens, it’s her best friend.
In addition to a plot that literally rockets along, Spark explores moral dilemmas. What if a Stray was was a “good” person before their DNA made them a killer? What if a Spark isn’t worth risking a life to save? Who says what is “good” and “bad”? Are we more than our DNA or victims of its make-up? Ev has to find the answers if she is to succeed as a Shield.
If you’re a science fiction or fantasy fan, you absolutely need to read Spark. If you like edgy YA, you need to read it too.
Reviewed by Sandy Fussell
Note: Spark is a trilogy and the next two instalments, Stray and Shield, already have release dates.
Author: Rachael Craw
Publisher: Walker Books Australia RRP $19.95
Publication Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781922179623Type: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy