Title: Skylark by Meagan Spooner
Published: August 1st, 2012 by Carolrhoda Lab
Format: Audio book narrated by Angela Lin
Group age: Young adult
Genre: Dystopian / Paranormal
Challenge(s): 2013 Dystopian
Grade rate: B
Sixteen-year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky. Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children's innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped. Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret—but can she stay alive long enough to find them?
What a different take on dystopia! I’m always amazed by the vision, imagination and invention of authors everywhere, that’s why you are so awesome! Skylark is a testament to that :)
There are books that, for whatever reason, stay with you and Skylar is one of those. To me, the best components of the story are the story building, the setting and the writing. The story is very slow to build and I have to confess of losing interest at the beginning, I’m glad I persevered though! The world created by Spooner is nothing short of magical. It has been ravaged by wars 100 years ago and the survivors have either mutated to almost monsters, or banded themselves in walled cities that are powered by the ‘resource’, what we know of as magic. I think one of the biggest lessons that Lark learned is that evil could be found inside and outside the walls equally and that she had to be very careful to survive. The setting comes alive by the description of Lark experiences. The writing is poetic and lyrical, rich in metaphors and simile; truly exquisite. I wish I could include some quotes here, but alas, this is harder to do when listening to an audio book.
Now that you read the paragraph above, you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned that characters yet. I’m getting to that part now. It’s not to say that the characterization was poor, but to me, it takes second place to the story itself. Lark is strong, loyal, but misguided and very incapable, at least at the beginning. Since the story is told from her POV, we get to experiences all her ‘first’. The first time she sees the outside world as she leaves her domed city is traumatic. She’s starving, tired, and scared. She makes many mistakes and is saved a few times by Oren. I loved that Lark is aware of her shortcomings and wants to earn some independence and sense of belonging.
Oren is, as Lark initially called him, a wild boy. However, he is taken with her and helps her many times, showing her how to survive in the ‘real’ world. Oren is mysterious, stoic, strong and closed off, but I liked him immediately. I have faith in you! Nix is a pixie (a machine created by the institute to track magic), that is Lark’s other companion on her travels, I loved her evasiveness and her loyalty. I don’t know why, but I just didn’t like Kris from the beginning. The other characters, such as Dorian, the renewable leader, and others are not memorable.
The plot is different and so full of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and left my head spinning. I hope that Lark learns to take care of herself and finds her missing brother Basil. I can’t wait to read Shadow Lark, the next book in the series that will be released in October of this year.
About the cover: The cover is pretty, but doesn’t give a lot away. I guess the woods are prominent and that the swirls gives it a sense of whimsy.