Author: Rachael Craw
Series? Yes, 1 of 3.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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:
“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.
“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.
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 ;))