Author: Susan Jane Bigelow
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Superheroes
Publisher: Candlemark & Gleam
Publication date: August 2012
Paperback: 404 pages
Deirdre Burns White clings desperately to her normal life. She has a job, a boyfriend and an apartment in the city of First Landing. She’s made sure life is normal… because Dee is an extrahuman. She can make fire with her mind and she has the devil’s luck, but because of that, she was once imprisoned and tortured by the ruthless Confederation military. All she wants is to bury the past and blend in.
When an old friend shows up bearing a letter and a command, though, Dee finds she can’t run any longer. The ghosts of her past have come back to haunt her, even as the first cracks finally begin to show in the Confederation’s smothering oppression.
Now First Landing is in a state of open, wild revolt, and Dee has to make a choice: to hide herself away, lost to guilt and regret, or to embrace her past and her dangerous powers to help save the people and the city she loves.
Dee could set the world on fire; all she needs is a spark.
Stand alone or series: Third entry in the Extrahumans series
How did I get this book: Review copy from the publisher
Note: I chose NOT to include huge spoilers for the series so that anybody can read this post in which I try to tell you WHY you should read this series. You’re welcome.
Let me start by saying: wow. WOW.
I just can’t get over how good The Spark is. I’ve finished reading it a couple of days ago and haven’t recovered from the experience yet.
Roughly, this is what happens in The Spark: Valen, roughly one year since events at the end of Fly Into Fire. Penny “Broken” Silverwing and Sky Ranger now have a baby son, Amos. Teenager Dee is trying to take control of her powers of fire. Along with the few surviving extrahumans they have made a life for themselves apart from everything and everyone, an oasis of presumed tranquillity and as it eventually turns out, unwise recklessness. An ally and friend betrays their location to the Confederation and shit hits the fan monumentally.
And then ten years pass.
I know. I couldn’t believe it either.
I sat down to write a regular review but all of a sudden…the review became something else. Because I realise that not everybody has read the first two books in the series, because I want more people to read then, I thought: instead of writing a regular review of this third book, I ought to write about the series as a whole and why I love them and why I think ALL THE PEOPLES should be reading this.
I have been reading and raving about this series since last year but with The Spark it reached a level of awesome that is off-the-charts.
Read this series if you like Scifi: like, proper, well-developed Scifi complete with space travel and superpowers and alien races. But also: dystopias. Proper, thought-out Dystopias with a government that seems to be on your side but it really are not. A government whose tentacles seem inescapable and there is real danger out there. One does not simply fight the Confederation. There are always consequences.
Read this series if you like politics: read this for the politics of the Confederation and how it controls many places at the same time but also how it attempts to control the lives and minds of people. Read this for the unrest, for the realisation that there can be no complete stability when people are exploited and subjugated and controlled. Read this for the resistance – in all forms and shapes – and for the beginning of an awesome revolution.
Read this series if you like awesome, complex characters. I just can’t even begin to describe how awesome this group of characters is and how their arcs evolve and progress beautifully. How there is angst, and sacrifices, and choices to be made and conflict. These people are put through the wringer and no one is safe. This series do not pull punches and is at times, truly heartbreaking.
Read this series if you like superheroes: whose powers are often not a blessing but a curse, whose powers don’t magically solve their problems or the problems of the world. If you like people with powers and whose struggle to accept them, control them is a lifetime struggle. These people struggle to understand who they are with or without those powers.
Read this if you like serious conflict: internal and external. The frame of the series is how an extrahuman who can predict the future contacts our characters from the past to let them know what they need to do to make a better future for everybody. Read this if you think this is fucked-up and unfair and how are these people NOT pawns on an already set course they cannot (can’t they?) alter.
Read this if you like diversity in your stories: for there are people of many races and many sexual identities. In fact, one of the main characters is a transgender person.
The Spark is a patently mature work from this author. It is a rounded, polished work and and the ending, when it comes, is as bittersweet as it can be and a perfect fit to the overall feel of this series. It is an open ending, full of potential and hope – and I hope to gods that Susan Jane Bigelow goes back to this world one day and allow me to spend more time with these characters.
I simply cannot recommend this series enough. The Spark is a serious contender for a top 10 spot this year.
Rating: 8 – Excellent and leaning toward 9
Reading Next: Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
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