Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Teen/YA, Science Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the first book in the Sky Chasers series, Glow.
After the harrowing events aboard the New Horizon, Waverly and the other girls have returned to their home, the ship Empyrean, but Waverly is still haunted and reviled for failing to bring back the adults. Kieran is once again in command, but he’s troubled by his experiences at the hands of Seth and has become increasingly dictatorial. Waverly is troubled by this turn of events, and isn’t sure how to make things right, especially when Kieran blames Seth for helping a terrorist aboard the Empyrean.
Spark continues the provocative storyline established in Glow and focuses on the survivors of the Empyrean. Kieran is back in control, and he’s more insecure than ever about his leadership. Because of that, he begins to act irrationally. He doesn’t think his actions through, and assumes that anyone who disagrees with his decisions is automatically working against him. While he did suffer at the hands of Seth, almost dying of starvation, Kieran is very difficult to like or sympathize with in this book. He’s a weak, scared leader, and that has serious repercussions for those living on the Empyrean. It’s only in the last quarter of the novel that he really asserts himself and shows hints that he could be a great captain.
Waverly is arguably the center of the Sky Chasers series, and her large role continues in Spark. She seems to be the voice of reason, though few will listen to her because they aren’t sure whether they can trust her. But as Kieran’s reign grows increasingly tyrannical, it’s Waverly they turn to. She’s a calm, measured young woman, and she balances out the difficulty of Kieran’s character nicely.
However, Spark isn’t full of the jaw-dropping revelations that made Glow so gripping. Most of the information is out there by the beginning of Spark, so the book focuses on events rather than developing the history and mythology behind the story further. This does give more room to focus on characters and issues, but for those who enjoyed the bombshells Ryan oh-so-casually dropped time and again in the first book, this book doesn’t have quite the same punch.
That being said, Ryan continues to expound on timely issues in Spark. Religion is once again central to this book. As Kieran tries to keep his grasp on leadership, he makes his religious services mandatory, which doesn’t sit well with Waverly or the rest of the girls who were exposed to Pastor Mather’s preaching on the New Horizon. Ryan also tackles the issue of personal freedoms and a police state; are disagreement and free speech luxuries to be taken away when times are difficult? These provocative questions, as well as Ryan’s ability to write an absolutely compelling storyline, will keep readers hooked on Spark and will have them clamoring for the conclusion to the Sky Chasers trilogy.
Other books by Amy Kathleen Ryan: