Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Spark (Sky Chasers, #2)

Spark (Sky Chasers, #2)Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Series: Sky Chasers
Publication: August 2nd 2012
Publisher: Macmillan Children's
Paperback, 375 pages
Buy: The Book Depository

Unsettling, grim, nerve-wracking, action-packed, frightening, riveting, enthralling, intelligent, fast-paced, claustrophobic, eerie, appalling, passionate… Any one of these words can be used to describe Spark, and yet, not even all of them put together come close to explaining the all-consuming thrill ride that is this book. Amy Kathleen Ryan achieved something not many authors can: Spark is one of those highly adaptable books that can be read one way by a younger audience, and completely differently by someone older. Behind the exciting story are layers and layers of psychology and current issues that can be discussed for hours on end.

Spark picks up exactly where Glow left off. The girls are back on the Empyrean, but all they did by returning was replace one religious tyrant with another. Kieran is leading the ship with sermons, lies and deceptions, and not even his ex fiancé can stand in his way. Weaverly has more enemies than she can count, both on Empyrean and the New Horizon, and Seth has lost everything when Kieran took over.

She’d been through too much. Some part of her had snapped. Her humanity had gone on hiatus, and what was left behind was her animal instinct: kill, hurt, maim, survive.

There are no heroes in Spark. Each of these characters exist in a moral gray area, and Kieran, who started out as a classic hero in Glow, turned into something entirely different. The most frightening thing about him is his firm belief that he is right, that he is being led by God and that, as God’s chosen vessel, he can do no wrong. Weaverly and Seth are confronted with the impossibility of reasoning with someone like him while still trying to find the remnants of the person he used to be.

What makes Spark truly stand out is that Amy Kathleen Ryan doesn’t hide behind the age of her characters. She refuses to adapt, embellish or gloss over the ugly facts. There are some truly selfless and kind secondary characters because there have to be – there always are in life - but the leaders, our protagonists, are all power-hungry and selfish to the core. There’s nothing even remotely good in Kieran Alden anymore, and Weaverly Marshall is on the verge of insanity, crazed by her need for revenge. Oh, sure, Seth Ardvale had a change of heart and came to understand the error of his ways, but all that got him were a couple of fractured ribs and a place in the brig.

She’d known fear before, of course, but this terror at the end of her life had been new. It hollowed her out, debased her, turned her into nothing more than airless lungs and bloodless brain. A gray cloud had crept into the borders of her vision and a voice inside her had screamed, I’m dying! I’m dying now!

And the situations they’re in are even more dangerous than last time. In Glow, the crew was fighting an external enemy and the disaster was of much bigger proportions, but that somehow made it less personal. In Spark, the kids of the Empyrean are mostly fighting each other, and as it turns out, there’s nothing more dangerous or cruel than a group of young people left to fend for themselves, especially when the kids in question are motivated almost entirely by revenge. Survival takes the back seat in Spark. Kieran and his crew are willing to sacrifice almost anything to get their parents back and inflict revenge on the crew of New Horizon.

Spark is obviously not for the faint-hearted. It gave me food for thought but, quite frankly, these aren’t things I enjoy thinking about. Who knows how any of us would behave in such conditions?
Extra brownie points go to Amy Kathleen Ryan for achieving the impossible and getting me out of my reading slump. Hurray!


  1. Wow, great review! This sounds like an interesting read. I'll definitely have to pick the first one in this series up - It's lying ....somewhere on my bookshelf!

  2. Sweet review, I have not read this series, but wow do I want to now.It is clear you loved them and the author's writing style. Adding to my list!

  3. Christy a love of books loves this series as well and there are so many things in your review that draw me to this but I have to be in the right mood for thrilling and scary and though provoking and chilling and scary stuff all around. I think that Ms. Ryan must be a brilliant author and I am so glad you are out of your reading slump! Promose me you will read Samctum, I know it is a Maja book!

  4. I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it but haven't yet had the opportunity to read Spark. But as always, your review has me wanting to grab a copy immediately.

    You said "The most frightening thing about him is his firm belief that he is right, that he is being led by God and that, as God’s chosen vessel, he can do no wrong." This sounds like one of the things that so fascinates me about historical fiction about monarchy, how they viewed Divine Right, particularly in the case of King Henry VIII. It sounds like I would enjoy Spark even more than I did Glow. But then, you always have a way of writing reviews that gets me excited about whatever book you are talking about. :)

  5. I'd not have looked twice at this series... It somehow sounded kind of cliché for me, and on top of that, space operas make me awfully lazy--I usually like the results, but it takes inhuman effort for me to start one.

    But, after reading your review? I think this series is on to something. Something greater, the kind of book you can list later on when asked "what reads shaped you most?" So... Yep. Going to try and get my hands on this.

    Thanks for the great review!

  6. Hooray! I am so glad you're seeing the light at the end of your slump! Well, I said I was going to wait and see what you thought of the sequel and now that you've given it 4 1/2 stars I think I'll try these out. I'd love to find a YA sci-fi series that I actually like. I don't think it's happened yet! I like that you say this one has layers of meaning - I love the YA's that have something for adults too. Great review!

  7. Maja, why must you write such enticing reviews? I need to start this series SO badly now! It keeps getting better and better and it seems as if the stakes just keep...rising! So. Awesome. I especially LOVE that you said there are no heroes in this book and that nothing is embellished or glossed over. I feel as if that's been a huge problem for me in many novels lately, so I think I'll need this to get me out of my mini-reading slump at the moment. Yet another incredible review, dear! :)

    AND YOU'RE READING GRACELING! PLEASE LOVE IT! PLEASE! (Kidding!) Even if you don't enjoy it, you HAVE to promise me to give Fire, the companion novel, a try. It's my favorite book EVER. Like...even more than The Scorpio Races and Harry Potter. I loveeee it, so I hope you at least give that one a shot even if you don't enjoy Graceling. (I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed anyway though!) ;)

  8. I love it when a book comes and totally books you back into your book mojo! I remember you're glowing review of Glow, so I'm happy to see that Ryan's sequel didn't fail to disappoint either. This book sounds like it has a lot going for it, I for one can't wait to get started! Another wonderful review Maja :)

  9. I am so happy to know that you loved Spark as much/more than Glow and I hope that your reviews will convince other people to give this series a go. I think a lot of people passed on it but it has so much to offer YA readers.

    We'll get through these next few months and then we can jump up and down screaming when Flame gets released :D

  10. Not for the faint-hearted, indeed! I am definitely adding this to my reading list - it sounds amazing! Fabulous review, Maja!

  11. Maja you described the reasons why I found Across the Universe so intriguing, but unfortunately the second book was such a snoozer. Maybe I should pick this series up instead. I know some readers aren't thrilled about characters living in the gray realm but that's when I think really interesting things seem to happen and we get a real sense of what the characters are like. Since you gave the sequel a higher rating and it took you out of a book slump, I'm going to have to give this series a try.

  12. This sounds really good. I love books that seem to encompass all ages of readers. I think it makes the book more intriguing to see how different age group interpret the book and what they get out of it.

  13. Maja, I love your opening paragraph! That's all I need to hear to consider giving this series another try. :) I felt a little so and so about the first book and never really thought about the sequel. I do enjoy it when authors are not afraid to include all those gritty details though so I'll have to dig out my copy of this book. Amazing review as always!

  14. Wow, awesome review Maja. You really enjoyed this book and you make it sound so amazing. I'm not familiar with this series but I'll definitely be checking it out now. I love the quotes you picked too.


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