Saturday, 17 November 2012

Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Title: Spark
Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Released: July 17th 2012
Pages: 375 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon

Waverly and Kieran are finally reunited on the Empyrean. Kieran has led the boys safely up to this point, and now that the girls are back, their mission seems slightly less impossible: to chase down the New Horizon, and save their parents from the enemy ship. But nothing is truly as it seems…Kieran’s leadership methods have raised Seth’s hackles— and Waverly’s suspicions. Is this really her fiancĂ©? The handsome, loving boy she was torn from just a short time before? More and more, she finds her thoughts aligned with Seth’s. But if Seth is Kieran’s Enemy No. 1, what does that make her? 

In one night, a strange explosion rocks the Empyrean—shooting them off course and delaying their pursuit of the New Horizon—and Seth is mysteriously released from the brig. Seth is the most obvious suspect for the explosion, and Waverly the most obvious suspect for releasing him. As the tension reaches a boiling point, will Seth be able to find the true culprit before Kieran locks them both away—or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? With the balance of power precarious and the clock ticking, every decision counts… every step brings them closer to a new beginning, or a sudden end...

So earlier this year I received my first book from a publisher, and guess what it was? Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, the first installment to the Sky Chasers series. I was instantly hooked, as I said back in my review in January, so as soon as this came out, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

The series revolves around three teenagers: Waverly, Kieran, and Seth. It is set in the future, aboard one of two sister ships, called the Empyrean and the New Horizon. Whilst flying through a nebula, making communication difficult, the New Horizon snuck up on the Empyrean and killed the majority of the adult crew and stole all the girls off of the ship. It was up to the young boys to rescue the girls, as well as a few captive parents that are still alive. After a few difficulties during the rescue mission, the girls are back, but tension is high, especially between the three teenage leaders. And after things start to go mysteriously awry on the Empyrean, they are about to begin a whole new journey - one they never thought they'd have to go through.

Firstly, I've got to say I still love the premise. I've always been intrigued by dystopian novels, and how a range of different authors portray the Earth's future very differently. Although I think there are a few others out there, this is the only dystopian series I have read that also includes some sci-fi elements. Being a bit of a space geek, I love that the story is situated on two unknown space crafts travelling through some unknown galaxy - the characters know their homes through and through, but the reader doesn't, so it's like discovering a whole other world. And in a way, I suppose it is. I like the continuation of the storyline from the previous novel (beware spoilers from here on in!), and that although they do have the girl's back, it hasn't solved everything - there is still mourning and worry and mistrust and rebellion. It's a civil war happening on a lone spacecraft between a bunch of kids who honestly don't know what they are doing. Anything could happen, and I think this opened up a lot of possible storylines throughout the book, and perhaps the rest of the series.

The characters I wasn't so keen on. Out of the main three, I suppose I've always liked Waverly. She's a proper heroine - she never goes crying to some guy when she's scared, she doesn't back down from a fight, she doesn't let down her guard; she's always ready to fight, ready to stand up for what she believes is right, no matter what the consequences, and for that I think Ryan has created an amazing main character. She may make mistakes, but you can't help but like her because she's strong - Ryan's written her so that she reacts to situations in a way that is believable. I can't give her enough credit for that.

Now onto the boys. I'm a bit undecided about what to say. In Glow, I loved Kieran and hated Seth, full stop, end of. Seth was violent and aggressive and angry and cruel - Kieran was tortured and was brave, and tried to keep a ship full of children together during a time of crisis. However, in Spark it was like their personalities had swapped overnight; now I love Seth and hate Kieran, and I'm totally confused by it. On one hand, Seth has still got all that aggression under wraps - but as I read more of the novels, I began to understand why he did what he did, and I actually began to sympathize with him. He was always the bad guy in Glow, but now I suppose he's a slightly misguided hero, of some kind? Kieran, on the other hand, is an absolute prat. I can't describe how much I hate him. But also, I admire Ryan for how she has characterized him. All the children are going through a hard time; they're having to do jobs that no child should ever have to do. Kieran is their leader, unofficially or not, and a lot of stress has been weighted on his shoulders. Sure, he reacts like an idiot, and is so stupid it's crazy. But I think Ryan has made him react in the correct way considering his situation, so despite my loathing, he is a good character.

Overall, I am fond of this series. Sometimes, Ryan's gruesome descriptions had me cringing, but again, they were good; they were realistic. As I've said many times, it takes a lot of talent from an author to get readers to physically react to a book, so I take my hat off to her. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment, Flame, and I hope to see a lot more of Waverly and Seth (Team Seth for the win!) and a lot less of Anne Mathers. Roll on June 2013!
Rating: 3/5

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