Publisher: Carolrhoder Lab (Lerner Books)
Pages: 1st August 2012
Series: Skylark #1
Published on: 1st August 2012
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Sixteen-year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky.
Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children’s innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.
Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret—but can she stay alive long enough to find them?
Skylark is the most technically proficient and well-written novel that I’ve ever struggled to finish. No doubt Spooner is an author to watch.
The world building of Skylark is both imaginative and rich. It has a fascinating backstory set in a dangerous and vivid world. By the end of the novel I was rather attached to the characters and invested in Lark’s and Oren’s struggles. I cheered them on and felt a little heart palpitation at the impossibility of their circumstances.
Your enjoyment of this novel will hinge on what kind of reader you are. Do you like writing so animated and dynamic that it leaves you feeling as if you’ve reached through the pages and felt everything the author intended you to feel? Do you like a slow and sensual walk through a character’s journey as if you are taking it yourself? Then, by all means, go get this book. Read it. You will love it.
I was simply the wrong reader. I don’t typically like journey stories with lots of walking from A to B where every ache along the way is explored. I like fights. I like blood. I like sex. I like action. I like suspense. This novel has a lot of that (Well not the sex) but I wasn’t feeling it due to the plot which simply wasn’t gripping enough to keep me coming back. I enjoyed the book while I read it, but struggled to muster the enthusiasm once it was put down.
But I really have to hand it to Spooner. It’s just been so long since I’ve seen writing like this that I almost wish I’d loved it more.
“Then I looked up.
And saw the sky.
The wind had blown the day’s thick cloud cover away, and a bottomless blackness yawned above, pockmarked with stars. A sliver of moon cast the sickly, color-leaching hint of light across the ruined city. There was no end to the sky, nothing holding me down on the ground. I felt it reach down to me, threaten to swallow me. I seemed to fall upward, and threw myself down to stop it, knocking the breath out of my lungs.”
I could literarywank to that for hours. I feel the vertigo hit me every time I read this passage. There’s like three passages including this one about the sky and I read them while feeling my lungs constrict in sympathy. I felt her terror like I’ve rarely felt physically for a book character before. I could see that exact sky above me, waiting to drag me up into the nothingness.
While reading this book, I often just went back a reread passages of some of the most superb writing I’ve seen in a long time. It was enough to make me shake my head, stare glumly at my own manuscript and start pressing ‘delete’. Truly, I just wish that the story had focused more on the necessary story telling elements instead of covering every missed meal and blistered foot. But that’s a personal thing and it’s going to be different for every reader.
I will be desperately looking our for Spooner’s next novel in the hopes that the plot and pacing is more to my speed, but that her wonderful quality of prose hasn’t diminished.
*An ARC of Skylark was provided to me by the publisher. No money or favours were exchanged for this review.