I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sparks by R.S. McCoy
Series: Sparks #1
Also in this series: Spirits
on December 16th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher
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"Everyone in the world has a Spark, a light inside that guides them, keeps them alive.”
Myxini School for Children specializes in training young men and women who have powerful Sparks. Strikers are taught to manipulate fire. Trackers learn to find animals in the most formidable terrains. Handlers are instructed in communication with large predators. But forty years have passed since the last time they had a Reader – a student with the ability to read minds.
When Lark Davies enrolls at Myxini, he knows there aren’t many like him, but he doesn’t realize just how rare his abilities really are. He thinks nothing of being asked to keep his Spark a secret; after all, he can barely control it. Thoughts and emotions flood unbidden into his mind until he can scarcely walk or hold a conversation. But just when he needs it most, his ability fails him.
Lark meets Khea, a small frightened girl who mysteriously incites his protective nature. He has no explanation for the curious strength of their relationship, and it doesn’t help that she is one of the few people in the world whose thoughts can’t be read. As he struggles to get to the root of their unique bond, Lark begins to unravel more power than even his mentor expected, but in the process makes himself a target to political leaders eager to take control.
Her writing is very good, just the right amount of description so I wasn’t bored (or skipping paragraphs, which I tend to do sometimes). She does remarkably well from a boy’s point of view, which isn’t the easiest thing to do for female authors. It was very believable.
I really enjoyed the story. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but I’m happy to say that the synopsis doesn’t do it justice. There was a lot more going on than it initially let on. It starts at Myxini, but it soon goes far beyond the school. Actually, the direction of the story changes drastically in the last quarter of the book due to a plot twist. It was well done, though.
There were also a lot of mysteries that were fun to keep track of. I’m going to digress a little bit- I used to be a gamer, and one of my favorite video games was the Professor Layton series, which is about a professor and his apprentice who solve mysteries. In each game, there are a bunch of little mysteries that get solved later, and it keeps track of them for you which is really helpful. So I did the same sort of thing with this book. These were some of the mysteries:
Where’s Khea? (this was actually a recurring mystery)
What’s going on with her?
What’s up with Avis (Lark’s mentor)?
Why can’t certain people be read?
So it was fun to sort of check those off as they were solved.
And the plot twist in the middle wasn’t the only plot twist. There were a lot of strange things going on with Khea, but I won’t give too much away here. Just expect the unexpected.
Pacing: The pacing was good. Time passed kind of quickly, but it was satisfying. Seeing Lark learn his abilities each year, seeing his relationships with people grow and change, etc. It’s just that things really amped up towards the end. (:
Lark: He was your typical hero. I liked him. He does in fact worry too much, like Avis says, and feels a bit too protective of Khea (she is more powerful than him. She should be able to look after herself, right? But that’s called into question later). But aside from that he is very in control, and very caring. HOWEVER, he seems to lack confidence in himself and others, as is shown when he easily gives Khea up for dead towards the end of the book. Dude, the girl’s a living miracle. I think she’ll be okay. And it is rather funny that he doesn’t understand his attraction to her for the first half of the book. Um, maybe you’re in love? Just maybe? Think on it for a while. I’m sure it’ll come to you.
Khea: That girl is a mystery. A powerful mystery. That’s all there is to say.
Micha: A great friend to Lark. He really needed him.
Avis: At the beginning, I hated him, but then he grew to be my favorite character. He can be a bit rough, but he knows what’s up and where it’s at, as I say. His bond with Lark is one of the strongest bonds I’ve seen and most impressive.
The ending definitely left room for the sequel, which is coming out this year (2014), although I suppose it could also work as a standalone. Anyway, the ending certainly was unexpected. There was a lot of sadness, and death, and such. It was no easy read. I almost wish it was different. I’m kind of torn on the idea of killing off important people. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Whether it worked in this ending will be determined in the sequel. That’s all I can say. Oh, and I’m going to rant a little bit in the next paragraph, but there are spoilers, so just click if you want to read them. But don’t read if you plan on reading the book, which I recommend.
View Spoiler » WHY did Micha have to die? He was Lark’s only best friend! (besides Avis, but I think their bond was closer than his and Micha’s) And Jhoma too! He was the first person to help Lark at the school! Why was Tototl the only one that got to live? WHY? That’s so horrible! There better be a good reason for these deaths, Rachel! I’m counting on some serious compensation in the sequel.
Also, it really is interesting that Khea is the Majestic and both of them have so many abilities. I look forward to seeing them grow in the sequel. Also, Lark has to work on his ability to block his mind from others (like Khea can) and choose what to send and what not to. And I’m still not entirely sure about the mystery of the invisible ring.
Then there’s the whole queen-of-Nakbe thing also. I guess they’re not going back to the school after all! I myself would have chosen someone else capable to be put in charge, and gone back to Madurai, but I guess they felt responsible. I wouldn’t want to lead such a barbaric people, though. Just imagine trying to change a culture that prides themselves on killing and sacrifice. It’s horrible. I’m curious to see what they do with it. And I want Avis to be involved. I like Avis. « Hide Spoiler
McCoy did a great job with the world-building. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, Graceling, where people have special abilities if their eyes are two different colors, and their abilities are coveted and sometimes abused by those in power. I like the concept, and McCoy took it in a different direction by introducing a school for honing those abilities. It was sort of a Graceling-Harry Potter hybrid, and I loved it. Also, the maps (they were a later addition) were very helpful. All good fantasy books should have maps.
good vs. bad
Less than perfect:
- writing (somewhat distracting typos)
This book is a great addition to the fantasy genre. It’s like a mix between Graceling and Harry Potter, with a few more plot twists thrown in. The characters are mysterious and well developed, and the setting is believable and beautiful. The relationships between the characters were admirable and heartwarming. The plot is unique. Would I read more by R.S. McCoy? I plan to! Would I recommend this book to others? Definitely.