Skylark (Skylark #1) Featured
Meagan Spooner's debut novel Skylark creates a fantastical steampunk world where magic has a physical presence, and people are varying degrees of monster. While many dystopias focus on action and drama, Skylark moves along at a slower pace, a bit more contemplative. Thankfully, the personality-filled writing and gorgeous world building kept my interest level high.
Lark feels constant shame. She is the oldest person to not yet have been harvested. People years her juniors have been chosen before her. The other kids call her 'the dud,' 'the freak,' and she can't help but wonder if it's true. Nor can she find comfort at home. Her closest family member, Basil, a brother, left on a mission outside the wall and never returned, presumed dead. We never even see her parents. The only family member who seems to be around is her oldest brother Caesar, whose name is particularly apt, considering that he would do just about anything to advance his career.
Finally, though, Lark's name has been called and she is to be harvested. Excited does not even begin to describe how she feels, anticipating finally being normal and valuable. Despite having very little idea what her harvesting entails, she quickly comes to suspect that something weird may be going on. Why do they keep taking her to be harvested? Isn't that just supposed to happen once? Her answer, of course, lies in the secret room she discovered: she's a Renewable and they're going to plug her into the city until she becomes nothing but a husk.
The City, you see, runs on magic. Cool, right? In this world, magic exists in just about everything, including people. At the Harvest, they're using a machine to drain the magic (or, as they
call it, The Resource, from the children of the population. There used to be Renewables, people who could create more Resource, but there haven't been any born in a long time and the City's magic is depleting. They need Lark's Resource, but she refuses to be a pawn and escapes into the eerie woods.
What's especially neat about Skylark is how many different societies you can explore in this world. At the beginning, we're in the City with Lark, which is full of clockwork and magic. It's got a sort of industrial feel to it. Then, outside the wall, we get to see a bunch of different environments. Basically, the magic out there is all unbalanced, so some areas have to much and others none, which means that pretty much anything can happen. I just loved this world building, especially the changes that the magic bubbles wrought.
If you love reading about creepy monsters, Spooner cooked up some of those for you in her writer's cauldron too. The Dark Ones. I'm not entirely certain what happened to them, whether there was some sort of event or chemical, or if it was just a change out of necessity. Either way, they're cannibals, humans turned dark and twisted and hungry for other humans. This adds some fun spice to an otherwise fairly pleasant journey. I definitely would like to know how they came about, though!
Lark makes a great heroine. Her voice is clear and direct. Her narration kept me totally involved in the story. Despite being a complete newbie to pretty much everying, Lark tries really hard. She's not a complainer, and learns and grows from every experience. Otherwise, though, I would say characterization was probably the weakest point in the book. None of the other humans really manifested strongly to me. There are two possible love interests so far, but, thankfully, Spooner has so far resisted the urge to make this into a melodramatic love triangle.
My very favorite character, though, the one that totally stole the show in my opinion is not human. I freaking loved Nix. He's so adorable and cool and I don't even know. Basically, I want him to come hang out with me. Also, the way the scene where he learned things was just fantastic. He also raises some thought-provoking questions about sentience.
For stellar world building and some serious clockwork awesomeness, go get yourself a copy of Skylark. I really enjoyed it and will be keeping my eye out for the next book!
Originally reviewed at Daydreaming Bookworm
You can enter to win a copy of the book (U.K Edition) here: http://perrytheplatypus1102-3daydreamer3.blogspot.com/2013/02/an-insight-of-characters-world-guest.html
Giveaway is open to anyone living outside North America.
**ARC received from Random House U.K in exchange for an honest review.**
Despite the fact that dystopias are really "in" right now and that I have read so many of them throughout the year,Skylark still managed to leave a lasting impression.Like lots of dystopias,the background of the story focuses on an oppressive dictator government ruling over a community formed after some great war.But while the building blocks of the story may be a lot like common dystopian novels,the way the author develops her story from those building blocks is what makes Skylark unique.
In Skylark,Meagan Spooner gives a perfect example of hope when all is lost and a protagonist with a strong will to protect what she loves.She also put a lot of emphasis on the story through a paper lark,which I found to be really beautiful.In fact,I bet that the paper lark was probably my most favourite thing throughout the story.I might have liked it even more than the characters!While Skylark may sound a lot like your typical dystopian novel, the author's way of putting the story down into words gives it a lot more radiance.
Skylark is an absolutely must-read for fans of Delirium and Mystic City and perfect for a quick read as well since it is really easy to get into.I think that the content of the book makes it suitable for middle-grade readers as well,giving it an opportunity for a larger audience.So if you're a lover of dystopias then Skylark is one book you do not want to miss out on!
Skylark (A Room with Books review)
I've read a lot of just good and pretty meh books lately and let me tell you, Skylark was a breath of fresh air. This is the book I've been waiting for and silly me didn't pick it up until now.
Man, I just don't even know where to start because Skylark is just this explosion of awesomeness packed in between two covers. There's just enough action and suspense to keep me glued to the pages without being overwhelming. The little (and big) mysteries of the world and the story are subtly weaved in so it doesn't feel like the reader is constantly being bombarded with THIS IS A MYSTERY AND IT'S A MYSTERY SO I WON'T TELL YOU WHAT IT IS YET.
And oh my gosh, the twists. Yeah, I didn't see any of them coming. Well, there might be one, but I don't really think Spooner was hiding it from the reader, only Lark. It was so nice to actually not know what was going to happen which has been the case with most of my reads lately.
I'm not going to lie, it was kind of a lot to take in at first, but I got into the groove of the world after a bit and loved it. It's absolutely nothing like anything I've read before. I love the idea of magic being some kind of natural resource. And, as with any limited supply of anything, the government has complete control over it. So the magic isn't for personal use, instead, the city uses it to power itself. And we're talking everything from their artificial sun to little “pixies” which fly on their own and serve kind of as a police alarm (can that be a thing). I don't really want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that I found the pockets of magic fascinating (read it and you'll know what I mean ;])
And boy, does Spooner have a way with characters. I fell in love with all of them. Well, besides a certain guy (no, I didn't even like him from the moment he was introduced) and the rest of the evil city people.
Lark was stubborn and scared and realistic. She had some serious trust issues so I wanted to shake her and be like “just trust them!” but I can't exactly fault her for it. I wouldn't trust anything or anyone after what she'd been through either.
Ohmygosh, Nix. I liked it (always thought of it as a her for some reason) from the moment it entered the story. I can't really say much about it since 1) it's kind of confusing and 2) it's a little spoilery.
Oh, Oren. Despite all the reasons he wasn't to be trusted I just kept thinking “Lark and Oren 4evah.” He's such a complex and wonderful character. Talk about a tortured soul (not in the usual way, though. Ponder that one!)
The Nutshell: Basically, I could go on and on about Skylark so you should just trust me on this one and go read it. I mean it has magic, complex characters, twists you'll never see coming (unless you're the master of figuring things out), and a world that you've probably never seen the likes of before.
Way better than I thought it would be!!!
When I first got Skylark, I thought it would be one of those cheesy books where the world is contained to this one area, and the leaders are like 'killing them silently', and the protagonist has to escape otherwise they are next. Well, it was like that, but it wasn't cheesy, and I reckon it was extra awesome. When I got to the part where Lark was being 'Harvested', I knew that this book was different, as she didn't escape before the 'bad thing' happened. It was a brilliant book because it was similar to other books, but so so so different.
The thing that annoyed me a bit was that how Lark and everyone else see that 'The Harvest' was bad. It even sounded a bit suspicious, people are not meant to be harvested. The people had been brainwashed to think that the rulers of the city stealing your 'Resource' is a good thing, couldn't one person see what was clearly happening. Well, that little thing annoyed me.
I was so depressed when I found out all that stuff about Oren. It was so heartbreaking. He seemed like a normal person. I know there were clues throughout the entire story, like the dead animal, the moments of rage and confusion, but it still was a major surprise.
I really liked Lark, but sometimes she seemed a bit off to me. She was scared of the sky, that was strange. I know that she hadn't seen the sky before, but its amazing, not scary. And she didn't like getting dirty, and didn't even give meat a chance, even after tasting it and liking it. I loved all the other times though, she was a great heroine.
I enjoyed Skylark so much more than I expected, and cannot wait until the next one comes out. I will definitely be one of the first to buy it, then read it in a day. I loved this book soooo much.
-I love Nix.
-Also love Oren, poor, poor Oren.
-The plot in the middle of the book was perfect, and was great for the rest of the time.
Hobbitsies Reviews: A fantastic debut with great world building
I had a feeling I would like Skylark by Meagan Spooner from the get go, mainly because of how much Anna Reads liked it. When she gets really excited over a book, I usually enjoy it too!
And my gut feeling was right! Skylark grabbed me from the very first chapter, for several reasons. For starters, Lark starts off by doing something pretty illegal and dangerous and I was immediately admiring of her ballsyness and dedication. But we were also sort of thrust into her world and I had no idea what things like “the Harvest” meant and WHY Lark would want to get chosen (doesn’t sound good, does it?) – so all of that left me very intrigued.
I loved the world Meagan Spooner built for us. It’s a fantastic mix of dystopian and fantasy, two of my very favourite things. Sure, the world is a bit confusing at first, because we are kind of dropped in the middle of it all, but I kind of liked it! Meagan Spooner didn’t baby us with Skylark and I enjoyed the process of figuring things out as the story went along, rather than give us a ton of boring info in the first chapter.
I loved the characters in Skylark. Lark is ballsy, brave, and oh-so-relatable. I really felt for her and just sort of instantly connected with her personality.
Be sure to get your hands on a copy of Skylark by Meagan Spooner. She delivers a fantastic debut, with great world-building, relatable characters, and an exciting and intriguing story. I will definitely be reading more from Meagan Spooner and I can’t wait to read her next book, These Broken Stars, co-authored with Amie Kaufman. And of course I can’t wait the sequel to Skylark!
Originally posted on my blog http://hobbitsies.net/2012/10/skylark-by-meagan-spooner/
A magical world that swept me away
Skylark by Meagan Spooner
eARC received from Carolrhoda Lab via Netgalley
Release Date: ON Shelves Now
Reviewed by: Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say: Mystical, Macabre, and Mesmerizing
Influenced by magic, inundated with death, and riddled with betrayal; Meagan Spooner creates a world that straddles the lines of good and evil. Under every rock lurks a secret, behind every cloud hides the truth, and around every corner awaits destruction—watch where you tread, or you just might get lost in her world. But then again, that might not be such a bad thing.
Before I started this book, I glanced through the reviews and noticed that most of them were mixed. So, I was hesitant to start reading, however, once I did, I couldn’t put this book down. I loved the mystery surrounding this world, and with every page, I found myself falling deeper and deeper into the darkness, forgetting to ever look up for the light.
Before I jump into what I enjoyed about this book, I want to address what many people are having are complaining about—the history of the dystopian society. Just like many other dystopian novels, people are questioning how the world got that way to begin with or, with Skylark, where did the magic come from. In my opinion, none of this matters. The story doesn’t rely heavily on the past, in fact, it looks to the future—how to fix the present. So what does it matter how the world got that way. There was a war; it changed things. That’s all we need to know in my opinion. And the magic? The book never says that this takes place on Earth—just a world with magic. Its magic is inherent in their world—like gravity is in ours.
My favorite part of this book was the world outside of Lark’s city. Lark’s world was once full of magic, but since the wars, magic has been drained. As a result, there are patches of the world where magic is concentrated. What is so unique about it is how the world reacts to these concentrated areas of magic. Sometimes, the magic twists its surroundings into dark and malevolent creatures, bent on blood and death. Other times, the magic creates a fantasy world—full of life and beauty. I loved how the magic itself twisted the world into the dark or light, humans had nothing to do with it. It was a pleasant difference from most dystopian worlds—where magic is good, but humans bend and break it to create darkness.
Lark, the main character, is strong but not overly confident. She is determined to get to freedom, and that desire is what drives her. But she is not the poof! I’m a super-strong warrior who can survive everywhere type of mc. Instead, she relies heavily on the mysterious and wild Oren, who comes to her rescue more than once. I liked Lark, but I wasn’t wowed by her. Still, she was realistic, and I liked watching her push aside other’s perceptions to find her own truth.
And Oren—he’s as wild as any dangerous animal. He was the strong, silent type; and would be super sexy if he wasn’t covered in blood and mud all the time. But still, I couldn’t help but like him. You could see in his actions how much Lark meant to him, and he puts himself in fatal danger more than once to come to her aid. Plus, there’s that whole Tarzan kill bad guy persona. And let’s face it…that’s just a little hot.
I was swept away by Meagan’s world and her characters. Every time I thought I had something figured out, I was thrown for a loop by an out there twist. Dripping with menace, Meagan’s world will take you on a dangerous journey through the heart of the wild to discover that freedom is fleeting, truth is relative, and love is perilous.
Gentle and Surprising
As soon as I read that synopsis, I knew I needed to read this book. Immediately. I had Skylark swag taunting me for a week before my copy of the book finally came in the mail and I was able to read it. I came to this book not knowing much about the story, and while I did made connections to other books while reading it, it is like nothing else I’ve read. Skylark surprised me in so many ways, and I actually feel refreshed after reading it. I absolutely loved this book.
Five reasons you should read this book:
1. The world is full of magic, mystery, threats, and wonder.
2. There is a pixie named Nix who is suspicious, helpful, and humorous.
3. Lark is faced with difficult decisions that let me question my own morals and ethics.
4. There is a beautiful, scary love story within.
5. It is beautiful, gentle, and full of humanity.
There is an overwhelming gentleness to Skylark. As I began reading, the words swirled around me, pulling me gently deeper, gently further, and held me close as I followed Lark on her journey. Lark is a survivor and doesn’t even know it. She’s alone in such a vast, scary world and though she is definitely afraid of many things, she pulls herself through each situation with incredible grace and an innocent fortitude. While she is not perfect and makes some mistakes, she also looks at things with a skepticism that I really appreciate. Each character Lark encounters (or thinks about) comes alive in such a real, full way that it’s almost as if they sneak up on you. I love a book that finds its way into my heart so easily, and without force.
The world Lark lives in is so curious and magical. The City uses mechanical clockwork in combination with bits of The Resource (magic) to power everything; it is harvested, contained, and closely controlled. Out beyond the magical barrier that separates the City from the rest of the world, magic is scarce. It is unpredictable and scary and wondrous – when one happens upon it. I really enjoyed the mystery of the outside world and the magic – and its stark contrast to the City in which Lark was born. My heart was pulled along in her struggles with nature and her joyous relief upon finding pockets of goodness in a dangerous landscape, and as the journey continued I felt myself growing closer to her with each step.
I heaved a deep, long sigh after finishing this book. I wanted to stay cradled in its pages, following Lark and Nix ever further. The synopsis drew me in, the cover filled me with longing, and the writing enchanted me far more than I expected. Above anything, I can tell that Meagan Spooner wrote Skylark with care, and with love, and with a gentleness that permeates every page.