Published by Walker Books Australia on July 1, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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
My review – Genetically modified super humans
Spark features an interesting concept about genetic mutations in a select number of humans, that determine their role to play people based on their DNA – the Shield (protector), the Spark (igniter) and the Stray (the aggressor).
Evie is the Shield who has just been sparked by her best friend Kitty, and she finds herself developing great reflexes, enhanced senses, a healing ability, the ability to see people’s memories, feel people’s frequencies, and an unhealthy fixation on Kitty’s safety. It turns out she’s a Shield who has developed her powers, and her job is to protect Kitty from her Stray, who will hunt her down to spark their own powers.
I really liked Evie, her determination to protect Kitty despite the odds and her strength of character, and it was funny seeing her act like a possessive boyfriend at times. Her behaviour was understandable given the Fixation Effect, to ensure she will be able to sense a threat to Kitty at all times. Their relationship reminded me of the girls from Vampire Academy, where one is the protector and the other is the best friend. Kitty took her best friend’s new role all in stride as she was afraid of the impending attack.
I’m not going to apologise for my feelings for your niece. You know the stats on Synergist coding. Genetically speaking, Everton and I were made for each other.
The concept of DNA manipulation to breed fighters for private security was really interesting. Shields, Sparks and Strays have an interesting relationship with each other, as the Strays will hunt down the Sparks who will die once triggered. Having this secret world in society where super humans are about was a fascinating new twist. Although the sci-fi elements were explained in a brain burning scientific manner early on, I managed to pick up the concepts along the way as the story was told. I had to refer back to the explanation a few times during the book, as there’ll be appreciations used such as KMT which wouldn’t really be explained again.
There is a well-developed romance between Evie and Jamie, Kitty’s brother. They have a history together but they will bond even further through their training and amplified attraction to each other. Both of them are Shields, and they have a rare, Synergist bond where they both amplify each others abilities. The couple have great chemistry, and I liked how it never overtook their main objective in protecting Kitty (despite what their families thought).
Spark felt like it could have been condensed into fewer pages, at over 400 pages it felt like the pace was rather slow at times. This could be due to the range of characters who were developed throughout the novel. It does pick up towards the end though, with an action-packed ending and lots of twists and turns along the way.
Spark’s scientific twist on enhanced human beings was the highlight as it was developed well throughout the novel. Although it tended to be heavy on the concepts, I really enjoyed how they were weaved into the story. Featuring excellent character development and a romance I can ship, I really enjoyed Spark.
Rating: 4 out of 5
I received a review copy from Walker Books Australia in exchange for an honest review.
Interview with Rachael Craw
1. How did you come up with the concept of Spark?
I had the dream that is now the prologue of Spark. In the dream I was running through a forest at night, incredible speed, reflexes, stamina. Then I was gripped with a terrible urgency and I knew that there was a girl out there in the dark and that someone was hunting her down, intent on killing her. I knew I had to get to her first in order to save her life. I woke knowing I had the seed of the story I had prayed for just before going to sleep! (No kidding!) I started asking questions: why was I so strong/fast etc? How did I know the girl was out there? Why would someone want to kill her? Why was it my responsibility to protect her? Etc etc. But it didn’t feel like magic or anything supernatural, it felt like being a bit of a superhero, like radio-active gamma rays had given me powers or something comic-bookish in premise.
2. I was really impressed with your scientific explanations in Spark. Did you do any research to form these concepts?
I sniffed about on Google, looking at things like DNA, brainwaves, physics stuff … basically looking for any explanations that used very small words. Then I approached the rest of it like a giant game of Balderdash.
3. Spark was really well rounded in both the character development, world building and romance. What is the most important element for you in writing a novel?
Undoubtedly character. I want them to grab the narrative with their own hands and force the plot into dangerous waters, take me by surprise and own the page. Everything else grows around characterization for me.
4. What can we look forward to Stray and Shield? Any thoughts on writing from Jamie’s point of view?
In Stray, you will see Evie go through grueling interrogation, training and testing during orientation at the Affinity Project compound. She is stretched to the very limits physically, emotionally and psychologically. All of her relationships are placed under tremendous strain. The title is significant for reasons I cannot divulge without entering SPOILER territory! Shield will deal more with the injustices suffered by the genetically engineered. As to writing from Jamie’s POV … hmmm, in my experience I have been irritated by sudden changes in narrative POV when a series is midway. It doesn’t bother me so much if a series starts with a shared narrative but there’s something about hitting book 2 or 3 and giving the narrative away to other characters that irks me. I can’t really quantify why I feel like that. However, I should never say never. I might be digging into bk3 and it could suddenly seem like a grand idea! Watch this space.
5. Will we see more of the other super humans in the future?
Oh yes! Evie meets many of her own kind at the Affinity Project, makes some allies and enemies among them.
6. I love how active you are on Twitter and social media. Are there any challenges associated with this or have you always been into social media?
I have always LOVED social media. I never had the stamina to keep a blog. Give me 140 characters any day. My only problem is keeping me off the damn thing!
7. What authors inspire your writing?
Soooo many! From contemporary lit: Margaret Atwood (I love her with th
e love of a thousand fiery suns), Kate Atkinson, Isabelle Allende, Alice Hoffman, Tony Morrison, Alice Walker. From YA and genres: Patrick Ness, Elizabeth Knox, Erin Morgenstern, Kate De Goldi, Samantha Shannon, Leslye Walton… (I could go on all day)
Thanks for the chat, I look forward to seeing what others think about Spark and chatting to you more on Twitter!
About the Author
Rachael Craw studied Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury, but
became an English teacher after graduation. Working with teenagers has given her a natural
bent towards Young Adult fiction and a desire to present a feisty female protagonist in her
writing. Her debut novel, Spark, is the first in a series released with Walker Books Australia
from 2014. Rachael was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and currently lives in
Nelson with her husband and three daughters.
Giveaway – Australians only
Walker Books Australia is giving Happy Indulgence readers the chance to win 1 of 2 copies of Spark! Just fill in the rafflecopter below to win. Genuine entries only – no cheating!
- Over 13 years to enter
- Winners will be picked at random and must respond within 48 hours
- Winner will be announced on the rafflecopter form.
- We do not accept responsibility for prizes sent from the publisher.
- Entries close on 4 July 2014.
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