Stray by Rachael Craw: Review & Character Bios

September 1, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Author Interviews, Blog Tours, Books, Reviews

Stray by Rachael Craw: Review & Character BiosStray by Rachael Craw
Series: Spark #2
Published by Walker Books Australia on September 1st 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA.Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.

If you’re looking for a YA sci-fi read with a unique concept and lots of action, then the Spark series is perfect! The first book introduced us to the concept of Sparks, Strays and Shields who are genetically engineered to activate, protect and hunt each other down with enhanced abilities. Stray really hits the ground running by amping everything up – from the nonstop action, to the fast paced plot, twists and fun banter and relationships between Evie, her family and friends.

Stray is filled with competing scientific agendas at the hands of the Affinity Project – those who have genetically modified Evie and her friends, and it’s terrifying how she’s at the Mercy of them. Evie is poked, prodded, and even neutered here which serves for a horrifying experience. She’s told what she can and can’t do, who she has to stay away from and how she can’t even have sex with the guy she loves. Despite all of this, Evie’s focused on the things that are important to her- proving her brother Aiden’s innocence, and protecting her best friend Kitty. Evie is kick ass, impulsive, loyal and fiercely protective of her friends and family and I just loved that about her.

“Real love – it isn’t always about getting what you want. Real love…is sometimes sacrifice ..doing what’s right, no matter how hard it is, whatever the cost to yourself – even if it means tearing your own heart out to do it.” – Miriam. 

While the sci-fi elements were info dumpy in the first book, they are weaved elegantly into the plot of Stray. Although a refresher on the concepts in Spark definitely helped, I loved how the chemical reactions, DNA manipulation and abilities were explained and integrated as part of the story. I did find I had to re-read a few passages to really understand what was going on, but managed to pick things up as the story went on.

But at the heart of Stray, are it’s close knit relationships with friends, family and lovers. I loved the relationship Evie had with her family – Aiden and Miriam, as complicated as their circumstances were. You could sense that the overwhelming feeling between them all was love, and they wanted the best for each other and to protect one another. Evie’s friendship with Kitty was built upon love and support, and I loved their witty banter, their trust for one another and how they would do anything to help each other.

“Just once admit that it’s cool not being afraid, all that speed and kung-fu and psychic whatnot, knowing you can take someone down, guys drooling all over your hopped-up DNA.” – Kitty

And Jamie was completely HOT. You could just feel the pure chemistry between him and Evie and I just wanted them to truly be together. I loved their banter and how Jamie is such a complete gentlemen with her. Their romance is a forbidden one which is a bit cliche however, but there was so much more happening here for this to be a sore point.

My only criticism with Stray, is that there seems to be so much happening in the novel that leads to a lot of loose threads. I wanted to know more about Proxy and how she came to be, about why there wasn’t really a focus on Miriam and Tesla’s circumstances, more about Strikers, and of course, more development with Jamie. Some of these may be answered in the next book, however. Some of the characters being introduced didn’t really get developed for me, such as Felicity or Benjamin.


With it’s fast pace filled with twists, non-stop action and danger, Stray was an excellent follow up to the sci-fi world of genetically mutated teens. The plot is exciting, intense and constantly moving, with excellent character relationships and a kick ass heroine at its center. I loved all of the scientific twists and can’t wait for the next book!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me this book for review.

Character Biographies

Rachael put together her dream cast and character bios in the Spark series – it’s great to see these characters come to life!


Evangeline (Evie) Everton 

Age: 17
Physical Description: 6ft tall, athletic build, pale, long dark hair, freckles, messy blue/green eyes
Hobbies: photography
Dream Job: travel writing and photography
Favourite Food: chocolate milk (milk IS a food, damn it)
Character Traits: Intelligent, reserved/guarded, loyal, self-deprecating, kind, courageous, protective, analytical, unyielding


Kitty Gallagher 

Age: 18
Physical Description: 5ft 5, petite build, tan skin, honey blonde bob, dove grey eyes.
Hobbies: debating, event organisation, committee chairing
Dream Job: Event Planning or Editor of Lifestyle magazine.
Favourite Food: Pasta
Character Traits: Outgoing, outspoken, over-achieving, funny, determined, confident, direct, perceptive, sarcastic, risk-taking, clever


Jamie Gallagher

Age: 18
Physical Description: 6ft 4, powerful build, tan skin, brown and gold hair, dark grey eyes
Hobbies: Rowing
Dream Job: designing and skippering racing yachts
Favourite Food: Homemade oat and raisin cookies
Character Traits: Intelligent, decisive, protective, confident, generous and has a dry sense of humour. Uncompromising, unforgiving, honourable.


Miriam Everton

Age: 38
Physical Description: 5ft 7, athletic, pale, long dark hair, freckles, brown eyes
Hobbies: travel
Dream Job: She has it. She’s a professional photographer.
Favourite Food: Raspberry liquorice
Character Traits: Protective, loving, funny, take-charge, ruthlessly decisive, unflinching, fierce, kind-hearted, confrontational, demanding, realistic and practical.


The Proxy

Age: 17
Physical Description: 5ft 3, slight build, chalky skin, long white hair, silver eyes
Hobbies: none
Dream Job: none
Favourite Food: none
Character Traits: Cunning, clever, insightful, unstable, powerful, sensitive, desperate, cold, cruel, lonely.

Ethan Tesla

Ethan Tesla

Age: 40
Physical Description: 6ft 4, powerful build, olive skin, black hair, stubble/beard, dark green eyes
Hobbies: he doesn’t have time for hobbies
Dream Job: dreams are for children
Favourite Food: eat what you can when you can
Character Traits: Intelligent, inquiring, guarded, calculating, ruthless, unsmiling, unyielding, discrete, decisive, visionary, courageous.

Stray Blog Tour

September 1: Happy Indulgence | Diva Book Nerd
September 2: Behind the Pages | Cassie the Weird | YA Midnight Reads
September 3: Liz McShane Blog | Imaginary Misadventure
September 4: Fictional Thoughts | Genie in a Book
September 5: Kids Book Review | Books for a Delicate Eternity | Nicole Has Read
September 6: Loony Literate | Book Nerd Reviews
September 7: Striking Keys | Very Dark Horse

@RachaelCraw |

Thanks to Walker Books Australia and Rachael Craw for the review copy & blog tour! 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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23 responses to “Stray by Rachael Craw: Review & Character Bios

  1. danielleisbusyreading

    I really hope to read this series some day! You definitely have my interest peaked. The world sounds interesting, and I'm already loving Jamie!

    Great review, girl!

  2. Amazing review Jeann! Totally love those character bios. 😀 If I actually could understand scifi and keep up with the tech stuff then I'd definitely read this. But, I battled with the tech in Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and apparently most people have told me that that wasn't even a lot of tech. ;] So, I must just be stupid! Still I love this review! 🙂

  3. Braine-Talk Supe

    Oi, the experimentation is scary! So anti-feminist! Gosh, I think I'll get so pissed off if I do decide to read this.

  4. aentee @ read at midnight

    The Affinity Project sounds downright horrifying, I am so glad to be seeing more of them in this book! I am SO EXCITED for it. Saw it at the store today buy couldn't buy it because I forgot my wallet at home on like the biggest books release date of the year. ARGH! Also I heartily approve of these casting choices 😀
    My recent post Wrap Up Post: August 2015

  5. Omg what a beautiful dream cast. 😀 AHH YAY FOR THIS BOOK!! I wasn't as wild of a fan as I thought I would be, but I do so like this series and I think the Proxy as FASCINATING and I want moooore about her for sure. *nods*

  6. Vane J.

    Skipping the review for fear of spoilers about the first book, but your first sentence already sold the series for me! 😀

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