“Getting to the point here, you know we share a sort of genetic condition? In as much as mine us the flipside, I guess, of yours…in the way we react… to things.”
– Rachael Craw, Stray
Evie is a shield: designed to kill, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who can live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.
The first thing that struck me about this series is just how many terms the reader needs to remember! Isn’t it lucky the author has a glossary on her website to remind everyone! I was sent a copy of Stray by Rachael Craw (book two in the Spark series) to review and so I immediately went hunting for book one. I had seen Spark previously but not had the chance to read it. I really like books that explore human genetics. It is fascinating to see what people think is a possibility for the human body; of course, the superhero genre has been around forever. Genetics modification isn’t a new concept but how young adult authors approach it is always a bit of fun. Considering the seemingly endless possibilities and the numerous books already on the market, it is hard to find stories that are new and exciting.
I really liked the idea of Spark. The idea of a genetic mutation that intensifies the defender/protector affinity as well as enhances the physical capabilities of the body sounds like a good book to me. In Spark, Evie is sent to live with her aunt after her mother dies. Through her grief, Evie soon realises that her aunt isn’t all she seems to be. Turns out, Miriam is a Shield, a result of a decades-old genetics experiment. The Affinity Project are the creators of a synthetic gene used to create super-humans with enhanced physical and telepathic abilities. When it becomes apparent that Evie is also a Shield, Miriam begins her training. What follows is a slightly confusing story that explains the world of Affinity and its victims. I didn’t like the way the author went about her world building. The reader learns at the same pace Evie does but instead of showing the reader certain aspects, Craw has put it all into a fairly lengthy dialogue. For me, it was just too much. However, I really liked the concept when I finally got my mind around it!
Stray picks up just after where Spark finishes. The threat of Affinity is still looming over Evie and her family and not far into book two they come after her however there is no way she is going to hand herself over. So she risks everything and runs, thinking it will protect those she loves the most. Things don’t go according to plan and before long, she finds herself at the mercy of their cruel hands. Truths are learned and secrets are revealed. Heartache ensues, terror reigns and then a cliffhanger ending – sigh.
I found that the story in Stray flowed much easier than in Spark because there was less world-building going on. Reading the two books back to back was a smart move because it was fresh in my mind. However, Craw still makes you work for the story. She has created some very complex characters that are all keeping secrets.
Craw explores the idea that you should never underestimate those who have been mistreated. Their desperation or need can run deeper than first appears and can lead to unexpected outcomes. In saying this, they make fabulous tools for moving the story forward. Craw also includes all the necessary plot lines for a good YA story – a dysfunctional family, a love story and an evil corporation… Oh and don’t forget the female protagonist who doesn’t realise her own strength or potential. I tease! Craw has created a story that will really appeal to teens who have previously enjoyed Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Kathy Reichs’ Virals or Ally Condie’s Matched. I really enjoyed reading it and I am looking forward to seeing how the final book plays out!
AUTHOR: Rachael Craw
PUBLISHER: Walker Books Australia
PUB DATE: 1 September 2015
Thank you to Walker Books for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!