Published by Geek & Sundry, Inkshares on October 3, 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romantic, Young Adult
Book Trailer: Trailer
Sexual Content: Kissing
Reviewed by: Tacoma
Fifteen-year-old Laurel Goodwin wakes up to find her older sister Ivy missing from their Airstream trailer in the Oregon redwoods. A recurring nightmare convinces her that Ivy was abducted, but no one takes her dream seriously, including her mom. Laurel, a loner, has to learn to ask for help, and Jasper Blake, a mysterious new kid who shares her love of old books, quickly becomes her ally. Together they find their quiet town holds a deep secret and is the epicenter of a dark prophecy.
Laurel soon learns that her worst enemies, mean girls Peyton Andersen and Mei Rosen, are developing powers that she needs to find and save Ivy. With time running out, Laurel realizes that power doesn't always take the form that you expect. And once she learns to look beyond her snap judgments, she develops an unexpected gift of her own.
SPARKED starts with a smolder rather than a true burn, carefully introducing the characters and their home life. Despite the sluggish start, I was thoroughly hooked once more details of Ivy’s disappearance were revealed, along with the mysterious love interest.
While magical teens out to save the day is certainly not a new idea, I enjoyed Echlin and Watrous’ approach. The teenagers act like teenagers and Laurel’s point-of-view is relatable, both as an outsider and as a young woman shouldering adult responsibilities. The tease of romance was just enough to not distract from the seriousness of the main mystery.
However, SPARKED almost lost me about halfway through, though I enjoyed the characters and the writing enough to keep pushing forward. I suspect many readers won’t have the same problem I did, but it was difficult for me to work through the concept of an ancient Zoroastrianism prophecy concerning teenagers in Oregon, when the religion began in ancient Iran and is still practiced today (albeit in highly reduced numbers). The novel, however, makes use of the religion and its practices for the special destiny of four American teenagers. Why not create a fictional religion rather than relying on another culture’s entirely?
While well-written with interesting characters and powers, SPARKED follows familiar story beats. As such, the plot twists are predictable. The ending doesn’t fall flat, only because you were already expecting it.Series Titles:
- For another book featuring teenagers harnessing dormant magical powers to save the world, check out Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo.