“Everyone in the world has a spark, a light inside that guides them, keeps them alive.”
Myxini School for Children specializes in training young men and women who have powerful sparks. Strikers are taught to manipulate fire. Trackers learn to find animals in the most formidable terrains. Handlers are instructed in communication with large predators. But forty years have passed since the last time they had a Reader – a student with the ability to read minds.
When Lark Davies enrolls at Myxini, he knows there aren’t many like him, but he doesn’t realize just how rare his abilities really are. He thinks nothing of being asked to keep his spark a secret; after all, he can barely control it. Thoughts and emotions flood unbidden into his mind until he can scarcely walk or hold a conversation. But just when he needs it most, his ability fails him.
Larks meets Khea, a small frightened girl who mysteriously insights his protective nature. He has no explanation for the curious strength of their relationship, and it doesn’t help that she is one of the few people in the world whose thoughts can’t be read. As he struggles to get to the root of their unique bond, Lark begins to unravel more power than even his mentor expected, but in the process makes himself a target to political leaders eager to take control.
Contains mature themes, language, sexuality and violence. Not suitable for children under 18.
In R.S. McCoy’s Sparks, we’re introduced to Lark, a poor boy from a small town who’s whisked away to special school for children who possess “sparks,” or particular abilities that set them apart from those around them. Specifically, Lark is traded for coin so that his father can try and save Lark’s mother from an illness that can only be cured with a specific, expensive antidote – though, Lark is given the final decision as to whether or not he will attend the school, as all children are ultimately allowed to say “no.” On the way, Lark is accompanied by two other children who have been acquired by the school – Micha and Khea, who quickly become his friends.
I liked this story. I thought following Lark on his journey through childhood to adulthood was equally enjoyable and believable – you could really feel his frustration and often heartbreak at the situations that came up throughout his journey. I particularly liked the relationship between Micha and Lark – who seemed like opposite sides of the same coin to me. Watching Lark grow with his friend (while seeing Lark come to terms with how Micha was also changing) felt like an actual experience; the book was written in such a way that it really felt like McCoy has a very clear idea of what it’s like to have to experience that disconnect between childhood and adulthood – which can oftentimes be a very lonely, confusing journey.
At the beginning, I felt the relationship between Lark and Khea was a little odd, but throughout the course of the book I feel like the author did a good job of explaining why they are particularly devoted to each other; though I would have liked to have seen a bit more interaction between the two characters throughout the novel as a whole. What was nice, however were the strong internal politics that play into how the story develops – and why certain characters act certain ways, which was really interesting to uncover as the story progressed.
While I liked this story, I definitely feel like it could have used another look-through – there were definitely some punctuation errors and a few other grammatical errors throughout. I understand what a task editing a novel this size can be, but without the errors, it would have definitely made it easier to concentrate on the story. I imagine this sort of thing will improve with time and experience.
This book really reminded me of a mix between Harry Potter and Robin Hobb’s Assassin series; which is a good thing. The book is definitely able to stand on its own – and it’s absolutely New Adult (as it deals with some fairly adult, coming-of-age issues), but I think anyone who is looking for a magical journey into adulthood would enjoy this novel.