Wednesday 22 February 2017

Book Review *NZ AUTHOR* - Spark Trilogy by Rachael Craw

This post is not one of my regular reviews - I borrowed these books from the library and wanted to share my love of them with you!

Spark is the first book in a trilogy written by Rachael Craw - born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. The fact that such an amazing series can be written by a local, have the books published and distributed around the world and even optioned for film proves that there is some serious talent in little old New Zealand. Props to you Rachael - I'm pretty sure it was a hard slog to get to this point!

Spark is a Young Adult sci-fi based on genetic engineering and DNA manipulation. The Affinity Project have created a drug called 'Optimal' that can mutate DNA to create humans with increased physical and telepathic abilities. They were designed to be used as weapons - Shields - who will go to any length to defend the person who they have 'Sparked' with, and Strikers - the attack version of a Shield. Something went wrong with the Striker DNA and they became Strays, suffering hallucinations and hell-bent on killing their Spark. Once this happened the government intervened and Affinity went into Reform and was more closely controlled.

Evie is a normal 17 year old girl who has just lost her mother until she Sparks with her best friend and her abilities develop suddenly. She is overwhelmed by the urge to protect her friend Kitty from an unknown killer. Her on-and-off romance with Kitty's brother Jamie threatens to distract Evie from her task but he may also be the key to saving her and her Spark.

Spark is fast-paced, full of action and there is also a who-dunnit weaved in the mix. Who is the Stray that Evie is hunting? I love how Craw writes from Evie's point of view, we experience the feelings and thoughts as her brain and body struggle to catch up to her newfound abilities. The imagery is stunning, the telepathy is described as frequencies in the bandwidth which appeases my audio training. I can imagine being able to identify people based on the sound they emit within the bandwidth and it just seems to make sense. Her connection to Jamie is a great romance storyline with the added mental connection between them which adds a whole new layer of desire and it definitely adds to the story. Evie is a strong protagonist who has a decent brain in her head and although she makes rash decisions, she believes she is doing it to bring justice. The characters are well developed but I would have loved more about Kitty.

With the Affinity Project as the 'bad guys' it is easy to take Evie's side and try to find a way to beat the system that has made her this way and taken away her choices.

There is a pretty major info-dump around the sci-fi aspect which can be a bit hard to follow but if you power through then it will become clear as the story unfolds. There are a bunch of acronyms such as KMT (kinetic memory transfer) that get used a lot which you also get used to after flicking back to clarify a few times. I feel like the target teen audience will be stretched in a good way when grasping this concept and it provides a good thought process into the future of genetic engineering and control of power. I loved reading this book and desperately threw myself into the second book after I had finished this one.

It's tricky to summarize  this book without giving too much away.
Evie is taken in by Affinity who want to experiment on her and so she runs. She is trying to save someone close to her and stretches herself to the limit to do so. There may be a cure for the Stray mutation and deciding who are allies and who are deadly enemies will make all the difference to the outcome of her task.
This book was another action packed, fast-paced novel. It is darker and a bit more twisted than Spark. It is extremely hard to put down and I flew through it, staying up late to finish. More characters were added and developed like the Proxy who is a superconductor-telepathic-child who Affinity sticks in a goo tank to amplify her abilities. Evie gets stronger with her abilities but wrestles with the morality of the limits she should go to when using them. Definitely not a filler book, the storyline held its own with a conclusion twist that hits you like a bomb. But any more than that will spoil it so go read it!!

Shield is the third and final book in the series. Evie is back at the Affinity compound and trying to fit in with the rest of the Shields. That was never going to happen though. Rumors go around and she is hated for the events that conspired in Stray. When Evie is offered the opportunity to be a part of a semi-sanctioned mission to trial the Stray cure, she has to put all her trust in a small group of people, some who she has just met. Once again her abilities are magnified and she gets herself in too deep (that's a pun but you have to read the story to get it :p).

The story comes to a decent conclusion but I always seem to be disappointed with the ending of a trilogy. Probably because I have invested so much time and emotion into the stories and I don't want them to end. Same goes with TV series. The biggest action scene seemed to keep going and going and that is not a bad thing, although I was supposed to stop and get things done which didn't end up happening. I was so invested in the outcome of the mission. Craw set up two potential ending points during the book and I wouldn't have been disappointed if the book had ended differently. Although the real ending was definitely a great outcome. There is also a reference to President Snow in here that pays homage to the Hunger Games series.

If you can't get your hands on the physical books, the Christchurch City Libraries have copies of the e-books which you can download for a set period of time and read on your phone or computer. I did this with the first two books and found a paperback copy of Shield to finish with.
I'm still amazed at the quality of writing that Craw produced. I'd put her right up there with some of the other popular YA dystopian/sci-fi writers.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Loved these books too. I hope you've tagged Rachel into these on fb - she is SUPER nice and loves her readers x


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