Thursday, November 29, 2012

Audio Review: Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan

When readers last left the teens in Glow, Waverly and the surviving group of girls kidnapped by the New Horizon had finally made their way back to the Empyrean. Kieran has become the pseudo leader of the ship and Seth has been thrown in the brig for threatening Kieran's life. 

Now, the Empyrean has increased speed in hopes of catching up with the New Horizon. Though they don't have a solid plan for rescuing their parents, their hope is that they may be able to get them back... somehow. Waverly is understandably apprehensive of Kieran and his new role on the Empyrean, which bears a marked resemblance to Anne Mather's control of the New Horizon. And since Waverly barely survived her own experience with Mather, she can't help but worry about Kieran and the fate of their own remaining crew. Things start to go south for the Empyrean when Seth manages to somehow escape the brig. Evidence of sabotage on the ship is quickly blamed on Seth, though Waverly is certain he can't be behind it. Then the crew discovers that Waverly's escape pod brought more than just the surviving girls from the New Horizon -- a stowaway managed to hide on board and has plans for the Empyrean. As Kieran begins to lose control, Waverly and Seth band together with a plan to save their parents and hopefully escape the New Horizon's clutches once and for all. 

Amy Kathleen Ryan's series so far has left me more than a bit unsettled. The cult-like grip that Mather and then Kieran seem to have on their followers is disturbing to say the least. The kidnapping of the girls for the sole purpose of harvesting their eggs was also highly creepy and added an uncomfortable ick factor to the story.

Spark moves the story along somewhat, but also left me feeling as though little progress had been made in the tale action-wise. It seemed the psychological effects on the kids were the main focus of this installment.

One of the things I want to like about the story is the fact that the kids are in charge. They're left to figure out how to survive and fend for themselves. But the continued waffling on the part of each of the characters -- Waverly, Seth, and Kieran, for the most part -- got to a point where it almost overwhelmed the story as a whole. Yes, they're kids. Yes, the emotional struggle of having these massive responsibilities laid upon them is a HUGE part of this story. Unfortunately the characters at times became both incredibly whiny and paranoid as well as seemingly changing personality characteristics at the drop of a hat.

There's enough going on that I've continued two books into the series -- I've invested enough time in these characters and these stories that I want to know what's going to happen -- but this is not a favorite series of mine. My overall issues with the books could likely be chalked up to my being an adult and beyond the target audience. I'm willing to give it that.

The series is ok, in my opinion. I sort of think that the bones of the story are interesting but that the execution needs a bit more polish to be truly great.

I did think the narrators, Ilyana Kadushin and Matthew Brown, did a great job in reading this one. The two alternate reading from each of the characters perspectives -- meaning that each of them reads as the boys and the girls rather than Kadushin tackling only the girls' narration and Brown the boys', which made more sense considering the story is told in third person narration. The pacing was great and the breaks between scenes was clear and smooth.

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