Donna's Reviews > Skylark

Skylark by Meagan Spooner
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's review
Nov 23, 14

bookshelves: best-bitten, fantasy, steampunk, young-adult, library
Read from June 28 to July 10, 2012

SKYLARK is a bumrush of intensity from the very beginning, throwing Lark Ainsley into the middle of what is rightly a conspiracy theory that few, if any, deign to think about. Carolrhoda Lab comes through for me again, delivering a story that doesn't let its protagonist get away with a damn thing and makes sure she suffers from beginning to end, forcing her to earn every right she obtains for herself.

The world itself is vaguely familiar, giving hints that it could be our Earth but it might not be, cloaked over with fizzling bubbles of magic that keep people human. Lark lives in one such bubble artificially generated by what she thought was harvested magic from children but what it turns out to be is a person, or people if the government is lucky enough, thought extinct, regenerating their energy and having it constantly siphoned off of them for the purpose of fueling the city. And Spooner isn't shy about giving you details so if your stomach lies a little on the weaker side you might want to skim through some of the passages detailing what Lark sees, and what ultimately happens to her.

What I especially loved about SKYLARK was that every time I wanted to slap Lark for being dumb someone else was there to do it for me in the story. One of my favorite quotes?

"You can't come crashing into the wilderness, half-starved and wholly incompetent, and imply I'm some kind of monster for keeping your skin intact."

This is Oren and he had me going YES! Logic makes my brain waves happy. And when Lark first tumbles out of the city, out from under an artificial sky and under the real one, the depth of her discomfort is so excellently portrayed that I couldn't help feeling her fear of the sky on Lark's part. There's something to be said for something so simple being so brilliantly portrayed. It's the sky. It's something so totally natural but Spooner tapped into aspects of Lark that are otherwise difficult for authors to access. I believed every second of Lark's fear for the sky as if I were living it myself. If that's not good writing I don't know what is.

The greater story arc, the one about the city parasiting power where they can, spurning some giant conspiracy theory, isn't a wholly original one and I definitely had moments of comparing it to AVATAR (the blue people movie, not the airbender movie), where a seemingly primitive people are harvested for what they can provide to the more "advanced" people, read: seemingly stronger. But it's the way it was written that kept me hooked. The world is an amalgam of steampunk and fairy, melding the two together in this clinking hybrid that was both organized and chaotic, with machines making nature frightening and the absence of magic dementing a person beyond human recognition. And where the story ends is just the beginning for Lark as she desperately comes to terms with herself before she loses herself entirely.

The steampunk is exceptionally light but I do think steampunk fans would be won over by its use and the same goes for the fairy/magic aspect. But combine the two and they're a thundering driving force throughout the story, neither existing without the other in some fashion. Lark is a strong yet at times nonsensical heroine that's trying to get by on her own strength but recognizes her weaknesses. She admits to her faults, begrudgingly, and at times lets her heart lead instead of her brain. If you start reading SKYLARK for any kind of romance stop now. You won't really find it here and what is there shatters to infinite pieces the definition of romance. Really if you're looking for something inherently familiar and grounded in a reality that's both within reach and fantastical with a character made strong by her situation and forced to stand on her own (most of the time) then you'll find it in SKYLARK. Let me tell you how refreshing it is not to have a YA novel of some kind of fantastical type NOT focused on romance. Like being able to breath after being bound in a corset, let me tell you.
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Reading Progress

06/28/2012 page 28
07/02/2012 page 79
23.0% "Meg, I love your fearlessness."
07/05/2012 page 119
35.0% "Wow. Meg just made the sky horrifying for a character that's never seen it before. Lark had a fill-in agorophobic panic attack and it was one of the most convincing scenes I've ever read. Something so minor and normal became so horrifying that I actually stares to feel Lark's anxiety. Amazing."
07/08/2012 page 229
67.0% ""You can't come crashing into the wilderness, half-starved and wholly incompetent, and imply I'm some kind of monster for keeping your skin intact." Oh Oren, YA needs more voices of reason like you."
07/08/2012 page 241
70.0% ""I don't want to be kept safe! I don't want to have someone constantly trying to keep me from tripping on my own incompetence. I want to live in a world where I know the rules, where people are just people. Not one where they keep trying to eat me. That's the reason I left the city in the first place. I don't want to be kept, not by anyone.""
07/10/2012 page 271
79.0% "There's something to be said for people that blend in too easily."
07/10/2012 page 277
81.0% "THANK YOU. Lark, your naivety is going to kill you."
07/10/2012 page 299
87.0% "What did Oren say before? About Lark getting cranky about him trying to keep her alive by killing monsters disguised as people? This appears to be coming full circle."
07/10/2012 page 300
87.0% "Yup. Lark and Oren have officially switched places."
07/10/2012 page 312
91.0% "Ah. Oren flung the kept thing back at Lark. I was waiting for it."
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Anxiously awaiting review. Couldn't possibly be as bad as ToG. Hope that's a comfort to you!

Donna It's a Carolrhoda Lab title. I have VERY high hopes!

message 3: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Damn! The ARC giveaway is only available to U.S. residents. :(

Donna Boo! Have you tried NetGalley? They might still have it available.

message 5: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Thanks! :)

message 6: by Meagan (new) - added it

Meagan Spooner Okay, I know it's pretty gauche for authors to comment on reviewers discussing their books, but I saw this go by and I just wanted to let you know I've opened the GR giveaway to Canadian residents too. >_> Okay, I'll go back into my corner and put my blindfold back on now. ;)

Donna Haha! If that's what you were afraid of Meg then you definitely have nothing to fear.

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