Series: Skylark #1
Published by Lerner Publishing on August 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Young Adult
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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?
About once a year I hear about a book and for some reason I decide I most desperately have to read it and I build it up into the most awesomest book ever. Then I read the book and am thoroughly and incredibly disappointed with it. Last year it was The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. This year it’s Skylark, I didn’t mind it, but boy did it fall way short of my expectations. The premise seemed so original and unique – part dystopian, part fantasy and part steampunk but the story was just way to uninteresting and the characters fell too flat for this book to be rated any higher than “average”.
Lark is well and truly over waiting for her harvesting. In this society older children and teens are “harvested” for their magical energy which keeps the protective dome energised around their city and ensures that their mechanical devices continue to work. Once children have been harvested they are allocated to their adult role in society and they start their careers immediately.
The first third of this novel sets the scene for how this city runs and explains how magical energy can only be harvested once out of youngsters. When Lark is finally harvested you discover that she isn’t ordinary – she is renewable meaning that after her first harvesting, her magical energy reforms so that she can be harvested over and over again providing a now renewable energy source to her people. She quickly discovers that the process of harvesting is actually incredibly cruel and that those in charge mean to keep her as a human battery, forcing her to flee for a fabled city of renewables outside the dome.
The middle of this novel is about Lark’s journey in the wilderness where is meets a strange boy Owen who helps her on numerous occasions from death. You discover the creepy zombie like people who are burnt out on magic and the strange magical hot spots that can take you to different places and different times. Unfortunately the majority of Lark’s journey is really quite boring and you just get a straight running commentary about what is happening to her at every moment. As there aren’t really any other central characters other than Lark for the majority of this section I found that it just dragged on for way too long.
Things started to really pick up in the last 3rd of this book though to be honest it was a case of too little too late for me. Some interesting things really do happen that I wont spoil for you but again it was so obvious who the bad guys were and who the good guys were – there was no complexity or layering of the supporting characters and I really found that lacklustre.
I found Lark to be quite a frustrating main character she just seemed to continuously make poor choices, trusting the wrong people then totally not trusting clearly good individuals. Yes she was young alone and completely out of her element but I really found it hard to feel any sympathy for the girl. Oren was the real gem in this book, I’m not sure if I just like the silent savage type character who so needs a wonderful romance to open him up to a different way of life but he was complicated and interesting. I couldn’t say that there was any real romance between the two – in fact this book is really quite devoid on romance which isn’t a bad thing though I’m sure that this will be picked up in subsequent books in the series.
Overall I found that I procrastinated reading this book too much and felt at times I had to force myself to continue reading it. I’m not decided at this stage whether I will be continuing with the series – the premise and world building did hold some promise so I am hoping that book 2 might be vastly improved.
– Frustrating read, hard to get into.
Book 3: Untitled