Book Review: Spark

Spark Rachael Craw

4-star

Title:  Spark

Author:  Rachael Craw

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads


I spent my formative years in New Zealand, I’m a self-identified Kiwi through and through.  When I heard that Spark was written by a Kiwi, and that it’s a science fiction riddled with genetic hijinks, it was an insta-buy. Though I felt some parts of the book could use polishing, I love the creativity and uniqueness of the world building. I unreservedly recommend it to everyone after a fresh take on scifi!

Firstly, an infographic, as I think it’s the easiest way to summarise the complicated premise:

STRAY-Infographic
Credit:  The silhouettes used in the infographic above was provided by Freepik & Vectoropenstock.

THE PLOT:

“It’s called the Fixation Effect.” It’s what you experience when you think of Kitty, when you see her, what you feel, that sense of being drawn to her. For a Shield, it’s what compels us to protect our Spark. But for the Stray, you take everything you feel about Kitty and twist it so she no longer looks like the victim who needs your help but the virus destroying your sanity and threatening your life.”

In this world hides a secret organisation that specialises in eugenics, secretly modifying genetics for commercial and military purposes for decades.  Evie is an unwitting Shield, DNA-bound to protect her best friend and Spark, Kitty.  She has super enhanced strength, distress frequency detection, speed, recovery, the works… to help her accomplish this task.  On the flipside of this is an unknown Striker, whose instinctively obliged to eliminate Kitty.  Once Kitty is theoretically removed, this Striker will become a Stray – an aggressive being who preys on targets indiscriminately.

If you think that’s convoluted, you should have seen my face when I was reading the book.  I went crazy highlighting pages on my Kindle just so I could report this back in a semi-coherent manner for y’all.  Apparently the secret organisation liked to create complication for themselves, instead of engineering just super soldiers ala Captain America: they also accidentally engineered his nemesis and weakness.

However, I must say I loved this set up and its potential for emotional conflict and action.  I just wish that the information was conveyed to readers in a more subtle manner, as most of the set-up was delivered to us by pages of exposition.  I guess I can’t blame the book, I had to literally resort to using infographic to convey the same information to you guys- it’s a tough one.

THE CHARACTERS:

“Kitty is the Spark for the synthetic gene in your DNA. You’ve transitioned.” Her brow furrows. “It’s what you were made for – you’re a Shield, Evangeline. Shields are defenders, protectors. Turns out you were made to protect Kitty.”

One of the reasons I love the premise is how it forces us to have character interactions and question these relationships.  What will it feel like to have your best friend obliged to protect you with her life?  What will it feel like to be so compelled to defend someone, you sometimes forget about your own emotional needs?

I was conflicted about Evie, but I think she was conflicted about herself.  I sensed so much confusion in her during this book that I wasn’t sure what to make of her.  I had no clear grasp on what drives her and what makes her tick, aside from her genetic tendency to protect Evie + her hormonal tendency to makeout with her love interest (understandable!).  I hope that questions about her self-will will be introduced in future books (it was actually brushed on in the last pages of this book).

Kitty is also a bit of a mystery to me, but I enjoyed seeing her relationship with both her brother and Evie.  Speaking of her brother, I have to be seated and swoon a little, Jamie is sorta really hot?  I can totally understand why Evie got sidetracked in his presence.  Hope to see more of him and what his deal is in the next book as well.

THE PACING:  

Another thing that confused me slightly about this book is its pacing, at the beginning and the end it moved quite fast – but otherwise it was quite slow and uneventful.  It could have stood to lose at least 50 of its 400+ pages. I also felt that a lot of the book was setting up for later installments, as we never got to see the ominous figures from The Affinity Project.  You’re holding back on me, book, and I don’t like it! *impatient*. Guess it means I have to pick up the next book!

Nonetheless, when the plot got going, the writing was great and suspenseful – I loved the great mix of emotion in the action scenes and they were some of my highlights in this book.


Bottom Line?  You should all just go and buy Spark just on the basis of the awesome premise alone.  I have heard from credible, twittery sources that the sequel improves on the story, so I remain optimistic despite the few hiccups I had here.  Plus, Kiwi writers need to loved and adored (same with Kiwi bloggers ;))

30 thoughts on “Book Review: Spark

  1. Oh, wow, the premise already is already something that’s screaming to be read! Essentially, it’s not something original, but there’s something really refreshing about it that I really like. Plus, the fact that the character dynamics bring about some serious moral dilemmas is awesome, too. I know for certain that Kelly @ Dive Book Nerd loved this so I must give it a try 😀 Eugenics for the win!

    Faye at The Social Potato

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah the genetic and the protector/protected storyline isn’t original in itself but this book has a unique spin on it. Hope you’ll enjoy it when you get around to reading! And yes, this book seems to be very popular in the Oz blogosphere 😀

      Like

  2. I’ve seen this one around but I’m a little confused. The title in your post and on the little info section says “Stray” but then the cover says “Spark” and you call it “Spark” so I don’t know if it’s only me….
    Either way I’m still confused by the whole premise even if you tried to simplify it to make it more understandable haha. I guess I’ll have to go pick it up to really understand it.

    Like

    • Oops it was meant to be Spark all along Kelly, thanks for pointing it out and sorry for confusing you. That’s what I get for writing reviews in the dead of the night. I’ve fixed it now ❤ Thanks again for correcting me!

      It's a lot easier to grasp when you read the book 🙂 Give it a try if you have space on your TBR!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the effort and extra touches you put into your posts – like the infographic, for instance. ❤

    The book sounds intriguing – while the concept itself sounds a tad complicated, I'm all for a fresh-take on sci-fi!

    Like

    • Thanks, I am so glad you like the graphics I put into my posts – they’re the most fun part for me to create in any posts. Aside from the actual reading haha.

      The concept is complicated mainly because of my inability to express myself, a lot less confusing in the book though so hope you’ll give it a try!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear, I get warm fuzzies when I see fellow kiwi *high five*

      It’s so rare to see an NZ SFF author, so definitely worth checking out!

      Like

  4. Im so gald you also found that there was too much techno jargon! I thought the plot twist was a little obvious too. Im ashamed to say I got 95% of the way through and didn’t finish… its the first DNF I’ve had since starting my blog. The premise was what originally drew me to the novel; such an incredible idea! The author actually lives in my hometown haha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry it didn’t quite work for you, I actually liked it despite feeling lost in the beginning 🙂 I’ve never been to Nelson as I was a sheltered little Aucklander, but would love to visit one day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hooray for Kiwi writers! Esp Kiwi sci-fi YA writers! (They’re such a rare breed – where are they all?)
    I saw this in Whitcoulls a few days ago, and I thought the cover was pretty. Now after reading your review, I might check it out of the library and give it a read. My TBR grows!! Thanks Aentee!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Someone on instagram posted pictures of this series and I’ve wanted the books ever since. This review makes me even more excited for it. I’ll have to check if The Book Depo has copies of it.
    Anyways, I really like the sound of the plot and some of the characters. I sometimes like shaky characters like Evie so maybe she will work for me. I do hope the pacing issues get resolved in the next book.
    Lovely review, Aentee!

    Like

    • I hope you’ll like Evie more than I did, she definitely has potential to be great! Everyone seems to love the next book so I think it’ll be even better! Hope you can find the book 🙂

      Like

  7. I recently got this book and I cannot wait to read it. Your review has only intrigued me further. Loved your review, Aentee ❤

    Also, I am so envious of the format of your posts. They are always so beautiful!

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  8. YESSSS it makes me super happy that you enjoyed this one, despite it’s few problems with the pacing (I struggled during the info dump phases as well). But the author is totally lovely and I loved the Spark/Shield elements in this one. PLUS I grew up in New Zealand as well!!

    Like

    • I’m looking forward to Stray because of how Kell, Cassie and the rest have basically been frothing over how awesome it is haha. Omg yay! Where in NZ? I’m an Aucklander!

      Like

    • I hope you enjoy it if you do get around to reading it Ellie!! The info dump and lingo doesn’t dominate much of the book, thank goodness!

      Liked by 1 person

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