Review Blog

Jun 06 2014

Spark by Rachael Craw

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922179623.
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Power. Genetic Modification. Violence. Friendship. Science Fiction. A debut novel that will be the first in a trilogy! The fact that Walker books are confident of the success of this book, and are already advertising Book 2 and 3, suggests that they have found a writer and a story with literary 'legs'.
Spark is set in an era when genetic manipulation of humans is now into the third generation. The Infinity Project that began the process of modifying and manipulating human DNA has resulted in the genesis of human lethal weapons with advanced fighting and extra-sensory abilities. The Spark to their development is a 'civilian' who unwittingly triggers the capabilities of one of the genetically-tweaked individuals and causes them to become their 'shield' from the lethal attack of another genetic anomaly - the 'Stray'. This conflict is the essence of the story, however the story begins with a grieving daughter who is unaware of the transformation she is about to undergo as the result of the stirring of her genetic capabilities. She becomes a super-charged human in a very short space of time and the distress in combination with her grief has a compounding effect. Her friendship with her Spark adds a degree of emotional anguish, because it is not uncommon for the Shield to be unable to save her first Spark from the homicidal attack of the Stray. A romance, which cannot be sanctioned by Infinity, also adds a complication factor. This is a fast-paced adventure that leaves the reader feeling the tension of the central character.
This story is exciting and well-written, but it does require some persistence in the early stages to understand this alternative setting. The logic of Sparks, Strays and Shields is important, but initially quite confusing. This has more to do with the complexity of the concepts than the author's explanations. This will be enjoyed by those who have enjoyed the strong, commanding female characters in Hunger games and the Divergent series, but it is slightly more demanding to read than the other series mentioned; not so much a dystopian world, but a science-fiction future.
Carolyn Hull

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