SKYLARK (YA) by Meagan Spooner-a review
SKYLARK (YA) by Meagan Spooner
SKYLARK is the anticipated August 2012 release from author Meagan Spooner. SKYLARK is a Young Adult novel written in both the utopian and dystopian genre of literature. Exploring both the political and social structures of a post apocalyptic nightmare, SKYLARK- divided into three sections-follows 16 year old Lark Ainsley and her endeavor to discover who and what she (is). The world as she has been taught, is not the world she will come to know. There is a lot of background information, by way of explanation, that must be revealed to understand the premise of the story.
Once again it is ‘Harvest’ time at the Institute. A graduation or rite of passage, Harvest time will determine each student’s capabilities and powers. But the Resource, the source of all power and magic at the Institute and within the Wall, needs to be replenished. And the source of that ‘Renewable’ energy is no longer available. Living in a domed city, run by the Machines, protected from the poisonous aftermath of the Wars fought so long ago, the people of the City are regimented and classified based on their abilities and power. Each person has the ability to use ‘magic’ or power, but to use one’s power requires permission and discipline. But Lark wants to be a historian. She wants to know what happened all those years ago. And why has her younger brother Basil gone missing for so many years?
The City and Institute thrive using the Resource and its’ powers. Artificial food sources, energy, oxygen, plant life and even the sun were all created by the Architects, who designed the Dome, following the Wars that devastated the world. A renewable source of energy (or magic) must be found before the Resource is no longer able to keep the citizens alive. And the source of the power is something only the people at the Institute are aware (of). But the perfect Utopian world comes with a price. Pixies (mechanimal spies) report the whereabouts and activities of every citizen of the City. Disobedience and disrespect are met with ‘Adjustments’ and banishment to the other side of the Wall where the aftermath of the Wars is still visible all around. Fear has been bred into the people of the City that cannibals and demons live on the other side of the Wall. But like all myths or lore, there is some truth to every story.
Lark is suddenly thrown into a world she never knew existed. The Harvest has discovered a power within Lark that must be contained by the Resource. As a ‘Renewable’, Lark finds herself trapped and forced into a series of medical experiments that leave her exhausted and in pain. But it is the ‘Resource’ that calls to Lark and imprints a series of directives and knowledge that will aid the young woman with her future plans. With the help of a young Architect-Kris-Lark escapes the confines of the Institute only to realize that her family can no longer be trusted. Fleeing the City, Lark finds herself on the other side of the Wall, embarking on an adventure of life, death, renewal, friendship, betrayal and power.
Part 2 follows Lark as she tries to understand the missives of the Resource and the unknowns of the world she knows nothing about. The destruction of the cities and towns surrounding the City remind Lark of the history books from the Institute. With Lark’s powers, she is able to see the spirits of the people who once inhabited the homes before the Wars annihilated the people. But Lark senses that someone is watching. Not a ghost, but a living being. When hunger and cold are all that is left to comfort a weakened Lark, the ‘shadow’ that has been following her, will rescue her time and again, from the savages and cannibals trying to end her existence. Oren is a young man who slowly gains Lark’s trust by aiding her on her journey to the Iron Forest. But Oren has a few secrets of his own and many of those secrets, are buried so deep, that even Oren does not know who or what he is. Passing through the ‘Pockets’ of concentrated magic, Lark and Oren enter into various worlds of growth, renewal and destruction, but Oren’s journey will end at the Iron Forest. In addition to Oren, Lark finds herself a companion in a modified Pixie. Nix, as it will soon be named, quickly develops a sense of self and is torn between duty and a developing friendship of trust and need.
Part 3 and Lark discovers the other ‘Renewables’ like herself. But Dorian the leader of the Others, knows that Lark is different. There is a power within the young woman that has yet to be challenged. Living with the Others, Lark is befriended by Tansy, a young woman who is a scout for her people and gathers power from the rain. But it is the appearance of two people from her recent past that will quickly escalate the struggle for survival in the village she has now learned to call home.
Betrayal by a friend will set in motion the destruction of both man and machine as it unleashes the power within Lark. But at the end of the day, Lark knows that she must follow her heart, already broken and torn, in search of her brother and the others like herself.
SKYLARK is a wonderful first novel in Meagan Spooner’s new series. There is a lot of detailed background information revealed in the storyline, but information that must be revealed for the sake of understanding the premise. Our heroine Lark is not a kick-ass warrior with an axe to grind, but a young female trying to discover who and what she is. As she searches for answers, she is consumed with the knowledge that everything she has been taught is perhaps a lie or close enough. Betrayal cuts a hole deep in her heart and the knowledge that not everyone is what they seem, will dig the hole even deeper. And friendships are not easily forged in a world known for deception, but one or two ‘people’ may be the only beings that Lark is able to trust. I look forward to the next instalment in Meagan Spooner’s new series. I have no problem recommending this book to both adults and teens. It is an interesting concept based on a world of lies, betrayal and the use of power—both literally and figuratively.
Skylark is available for pre-order from Amazon.
Copy provided by Netgalley.
Reviewed by Sandy