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Evie doesn’t have a choice.

One day she’s an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she’s a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer.

The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death.

And then there’s Jamie. irresistible. off-limits.

464 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2014

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About the author

Rachael Craw

8 books422 followers
Rachael is a reader, dreamer, joker, singer, believer, writer and lover of words.

Author of award winning #Spark, #Stray & #Shield available in AU & NZ, published by Walker Books Australia. #TheRift is out now AU/NZ with WBA and in USA/Canada with Candlewick Press.

She lives in NZ and teaches part time while writing her next novel.

Chat with Rachael on FB, Twitter & Instagram

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5 stars
853 (39%)
4 stars
784 (36%)
3 stars
387 (17%)
2 stars
96 (4%)
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34 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 325 reviews
589 reviews1,031 followers
June 30, 2015
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

Here we have a beautiful and badass cover as well as an amazing story beneath it. I dunno about you guys, but THIS IS TOTAL AWESOMENESS.

Spark is a work of science-fiction set in today’s world. Basically, there are these genetic mutations in some people’s DNA that make them have special abilities. Evie is one of those people. Her aunt had it and so did her grandmother, and now, Evie has it as well. She’s a Shield, bound to protect her Spark, which happens to be her best friend, Kitty, from the person who wants and needs her dead—the Stray. The concept was really unique and I was very curious to find out more about this little world within.

A lot of reviewers have made the comparison of this book with Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead and I can definitely see why. Vampire Academy showcases two best friends where one of them has to protect the other from the bad guys, in this case there’s only one and that’s the Stray. I loved Kitty and Evie’s friendship and how realistically it was portrayed. Kitty is an independent woman on her own as well and she won’t let herself just agree along with everything Evie and her family says to her. She’s got a mind of her own and I love that she didn’t just act or let herself be treated like a helpless little baby.

I can also see the Rose-Dimitri relationship parallel in Spark. Kitty’s older brother, Jamie, is also a Shield like Evie. There’s basically a ‘forbidden’ romance going on between them for a while because they shouldn’t be together for that would be distracting Evie from her duty to protect Kitty. However, Jamie and Evie have a very rare Synergist bond which basically boosts and amplifies all their mental and physical abilities when near each other. Basically, making them more kick-ass. This is where all the Vampire Academy parallels end, the relationships between these three might be reminiscent of VA, but the plot line and characteristics of these characters are completely different.

My sole complaint lies at the info-dumping. When Evie discovers her true identity, everything is basically dumped onto her, and subsequently, the reader. It took me quite some time to actually understand all the jargon terms and the whole structure of Evie’s world, but I’d say it was worth it.

I do have a tiny quibble, in regards to the length of the book. I honestly just didn’t see why this book was so long. The pacing certainly wavered here and there, and could have saved much more pages by doing so.

Spark is a thrilling ride full of twists and plenty of action. The world Craw built totally fascinated me as did the characters. I definitely recommend this is you’re looking for a good sci-fi.

~Thank you Joy @ Thoughts by J and Walker Books Australia for providing the copy!~

Profile Image for John Gilbert.
867 reviews94 followers
April 27, 2022
This was an interesting sci fi book about a DNA experiment gone wrong and some of the people affected by it.

Evie is 17, grieving over the recent death of her mum and is living with her mum's sister Vivian when things start happening to her body, mind and life. At times a fly by the seat of your pants thriller, other times Evie discovering self, friends and family. I'll spare the details, but this start to a trilogy had merit, although Ms Craw's description of what is actually happening to Evie and her connections to those around her, both physically and empathically, is very confusing and not well explained at all.

Anyway, 3.5 rounded up for the thrills and enjoyable characters.
Profile Image for Fleur Ferris .
Author 11 books330 followers
March 18, 2017
I was hooked from the very first page. It's fast-paced, action-packed, the stakes are high, it has twists and turns that keeps you on the edge of your seat turning the pages. The characters are fantastic and the romance is some of the sweetest I've read. I highly recommend this book to adults, young and old. LOVED IT!
Profile Image for Austral Scout.
209 reviews9 followers
August 3, 2015
This book is fanfrickintastic news for New Zealand; now Elizabeth Knox has some stellar company in the Recent Release Domestic Super Club.  And this is an author's debut?  Say WHA'?  I realise I'm gettin' all colloquial up in heaaaa but you know untapped SciFi gives me the happy sweats! 

What I loved about Spark:

* Reading Spark and getting to know Evie took me back to a euphoric few days where I power-watched two seasons of the cyberpunk sci fi series Dark Angel (starring Jessica Hotness Alba) on DVD.  Dark Angel = also genetically-enhanced sexy super-soldiers affiliated with a covert and corrupt organisation doing damage control.
* This is not to say Spark was a shadow or a slice of same-same -- no-hooo! -- I found the story's angle fresh, and I was happily surprised by characters' choices and narrative turns more than once. I remember inserting my digit-bookmarks, releasing the fanned pages, and taking deep breaths with my eyes closed while I thrilled over some possible turns I was pegging the story would take -- it was as though I believed if I paused and made conscious mental notes I thought I could later cry a substantiated "I knew it!"  Nope.  Didn't happen.  I did not know it.  
* It's a Mystery Two-fer! Everybody loves a two-fer. You've got the intrigue of a covert and corrupt organisation (1), and then you've got an SF spin on an irresistible Whodunnit (2) -- only it's a Who'lldoit (like my beloved Minority Report, only way more grass roots)!  The latter mystery (2) was a teensy bit like Odd Thomas.
* The characters are smart.  I'm particularly pleased that the male love interest isn't a jerk (I am tired of these stories where there's a dude being a jerk and the girl is crushing on him.  I know, how's about find another guy who isn't a jerk?)
* The dialogue is witty and solid.  There's also some humour as relief in times of stress.  I like.
* Craw's descriptions are intelligent.  I particularly love her similes.
* Also like: the way she brings conversations to life with more than just verbal communication; like Patricia Briggs, there's a richness to the imagery of characters' body language.
* The pacing is great.  I looked forward to reading. 
* There's a little swearing, but it never seems out of place, lazy or
* Sensuality level = kept in check.  
* Vile things = mostly left to the imagination.
* As a fellow mother-of-three-and-an-English-teacher-by-training, I feel a bit fist-bumpy about Rachael Craw.  And can I say with small authority...she's really nice.
* I think Spark would also appeal to fans of Divergent or Partials, and it is most certainly worthy of being classed with them.  I think it holds more promise, in fact.  If you read this (well, THESE, muahaha), and those, I'd love to discuss some themes and comparisons sometime.  Wanna?  Email meee.

What we must acknowledge:

* It is a trilogy.  I don't mind.
* It is SciFi.  But, you know what, it's a whole lot of "contemporary fiction" too.  I'd wager many haters could get past the SF content.  Me?  I'm lapping up the jargon and acronymns -- I.L.T.S.F.S. A.A.S.A.S.!  O.  ("I Love That Science Fiction Stuff and Acronyms Are Smart And Sciencey.    Obviously.")

I also got to interview Rachael, (including probing about prequel possibilities! WOOT!); you can read the interview here:

RC and access via the lovelies at Walker Books.
Profile Image for June Ramsey.
145 reviews17 followers
August 15, 2014
5 Sparking Stars

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Wow this book was awesome Fan- flipping -tastic

Spark was about these people who are called Shields they were created by the Affinity to protect the Sparks from the Stray who want to kill them.

Evie is a normal seventeen year old girl who just moved to live with her aunt because of her mothers death. Her body is changing though and she doesn't understand why. After some more changes her aunt realises that she is a Shield created to protect Kitty, her best friend.

Jamie is great perfect . Jamie is Kitty's brother and he is also Evie's secret heart throb.

Through the book Evie needs to find out who is after Kitty and who her allies are. Perhaps the most unlikely person is who needs to be watched more closely. Evie's aunt is hiding something too and it's not until the end that she tells everyone, but will that ruin everything?

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This book was filled to the brim with action, pain and love. Evie and Jamie are so cute together I absolutely loved them.
This was a great Sci-Fi read!! Can't wait for book two and three!
Profile Image for Ryan Buckby.
652 reviews88 followers
September 24, 2016
evie doesn't have a choice

actual rating: 4.5

Oh wow my mind has been completely blown this book was so good and crazy that it was a fast paced action story that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time i was reading it and i cannot wait to continue this trilogy.

Evie was a strong and kick ass main character who changed along with the story and i found out things the same time she was learning them herself, i love her as a main character and cannot wait to see her grow in the next book. I loved Evie and Jamie's relationship in the book and cant wait to see where its going to go next because they are cute together. the action scenes and fight scenes between them two were brilliant and made both characters shine.

Evie and Kitty's relationship was another good relationship in the book, i loved how close they were during the book but i did feel Evie did push Kitty away from her and put her in the corner which was sad to see while reading.

HOW GOOD WAS THE ENDING OF THE BOOK OHHHHHHH GOD I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT RACHAEL WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!, it was so good and unexpected that i cannot wait to read the next book because i need to read it now.

there aren't many australian/new Zealand authors series that i love but this one has gone up to one of my favourites very quickly!

i read this book from when i got up until now, so 6 hours and 30 minutes such a page turner and action packed story!
Profile Image for Renee.
202 reviews86 followers
November 19, 2015

*takes deep breath* okay... let me try and form coherent thoughts now.

Spark is the first novel in the Spark Trilogy by Rachael Craw.

Set in the near future, a government organised human DNA genetic modification experiment has gone wrong, creating what are known as Shields, Sparks and Strays. The effects of these genetically coded humans are being tested and controlled, but new superhuman abilities seem to be developing further as each new generation of genetically modified humans reach the transition age.
To the rest of the world, Sparks, Shields and Strays are ordinary humans...but to each other, it's either kill or protect.

This is what Evie Everton unknowingly faces during the summer holidays after the tragic loss of her mother. Living with her aunt Miriam, she's trying to repress and figure out what her new abilities and sensations are by hiding away in her aunt's house and trying to avoid people. But when she meets up with her summer best friend, Kitty Gallagher and her drop dead gorgeous brother Jamie, (with whom she shares a history!), everything changes. From an estate ball to the sudden urge to protect her best friend from everything and anything, secrets are revealed and Evie realises that things aren't going to be so easy anymore. Things that used to seem irrelevant are in fact, as important as ever and people she can trust are growing sparse...in fact, can she trust anyone?

The first thing I have to mention about Spark is the writing. Oh. My. GOD! The description of everything was just incredible from word choices to unique phrases and descriptions, it kept blowing me away again and again! When we read, usually we accept cliche phrases as familiar and comforting, but they also then lose their meaning or their 'mood creators' as I am going to call them. BUT! SPARK IS DIFFERENT! THERE ARE NO CLICHES! I was so thoroughly impressed by the highly descriptive and unique ways of describing a scene and the action scenes are just something else. They were fast paced and full of punchy and energised words, But also, the slower scenes were full of reflection and inner turmoil (gotta love some good ol' inner turmoil!) and authentically considered all those questions we ask ourselves when faced with trouble or hard decisions. I loved the etymology and sneaking in names and references (that maybe I'm just reading too deep into) that sometimes were hints at the mystery of the plot and other times were hilarious little jokes! E.g this Rich daddy's boy called Richard.
"Yeah," he nods. "That's Richard."
"He's kind of a Dick." <- HA HA HA HA!!!!!! (I honestly held the book chucking to myself.)

And then there was Mr President, "Abe Lincoln." *cue laughter here too* I can imagine Rachael Craw had fun writing those two...

With this incredible writing came AMAAAAZING description! I have to say, usually I don't notice the weather in books, but I LOVED the mood that was able to be created through imagination based off the weather described! It was so clever! I loved the casual description that was put into the Gallagher estate but after a while so much so that I could almost feel myself walking around in it and knowing where to go. DO YOU NOT THINK THIS IS AWESOME? I delighted in the fact that this was all being described in a NON CLICHE WAY! WHOOO! It helped add to the slightly futuristic setting of Spark which I thought was rather clever. And the imagery that creates is just feels so real, it really connects! I felt like I was reading a movie (yes you read that right), special effects and all, everything was detailed yet the pacing managed to be on point! And let's not forget that my spine was tingling all through Evie's discovery of her new senses and I think I can safely say this book is SPINE-TINGLINGLY GOOD!!!!

The description of the characters was also great. I love Evie's transformation, her horror was actually quite funny...you'll see why when YOU ALL READ SPARK!!! She's a highly energised character full of determination and really very inspiring! She's the strong character who learns how to be compassionate and go against the stereotypes put against her. She has intense moral debates many times during the book and I really enjoyed Evie's understanding of so many viewpoints as she considered what was right or wrong or in THAT ENDING, decided on doing the moral thing. All her choices and moral debates were so sincere as she considered her friendship and new protective instinct over Kitty but also her relationship and interaction with Jamie and the protection of the Gallaghers and the other humans of this world and such.

And well...then there's Jamie. *fans self* HOT DAYUM!!!! I luurve Jamie! He's hot! I guess it helps that Spark is told from first person but wow I loved Rachael Craw's descriptions of his movements, his attitude and sense of humour (also funny!). However what I loved most about Jamie was discovering his character. He's cast as the hot guy, bit flippant, not much care for the rules, but then as Evie gets to know him better we discover the secrets he's been keeping, read as the complexity of his character comes out. And yet he still manages to be sarcastic and hilarious!
"Are you worried I'll make you pass out in the cafeteria?" -Jamie
Needless to say, he was my favourite character! Hello book boyfriend number 64...

Here's a spoiler about the main couple in the story in case you haven't figured it out by yet I shall put it under spoiler tags.

And finally....THE PLOT TWIST AT THE END!!!!! I wasn't trusting anyone... AT ALL!!! And then suddenly boom! Plot twist! Then, action scene, secrets revealed, climax and consequences and it was all BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!!!!! GO GO GO!!! I swear I read those chapters with my heart pumping and I could NOT sit down!

Basically, I love Spark. It combines sci-fi with contemporary and with mystery and all wrapped up in a lovely big dose of Young Adult! It's one of my favourite-est books ever and it was written AMAZINGLY well. I CANNOT wait for Stray to come out later in the year!!!

5 out of 5 stars to Spark by Rachael Craw...CONGRATULATIONS AND WOW YOU ARE AMAZING!!!

Profile Image for Grace Love.
87 reviews8 followers
December 12, 2015
4.5 stars

This book was fantastic!! I happened upon it in the library when I was searching for a different book, but had to get it because it sounded so interesting! It was not what I was expecting at all, but I loved what it turned out to be and am so grateful that I was able to read it. The characters were all great - Evangeline was definitely a strong kickass female lead that I had no problem relating to at all - and the whole concept of the storyline was really intriguing and unique. Even though the story wrapped up nice and innocently, I am hanging out to read the next book in the trilogy because there are so many unanswered questions that I must know the answer to! Again, I've found myself in the situation where the second book was released not that long ago, so a long wait plagues me until the third is brought into the universe. *sighs*
Before picking up this book, I had never heard of it before and I don't think it's all that popular in the Goodreads community. So here is my message - EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ IT. Add it to your TBR's people. I promise it is worth the read! It's everything you want in a story - love, humour, sarcasm, thrill, mystery, genetic mutations - it's all there.
Overall, I enjoyed it immensely and am now going to have to buy a copy because I need to own a book as good as this :-)

Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
July 22, 2015
Spark was a mix of science fiction and contemporary, but felt more like a unique spin on the superhero and savior role. It was intense, and entertaining. Not often does a young adult storyline take me by surprise, but Spark certainly did. I adored Evie's character, not only has her world fallen apart with the loss of her mother, she lives each day with the knowledge that she never knew her father and the only family she has now is her Aunt Miriam, whom she now lives with. The only constant in her life, is spending each summer with her best friend Kitty. Evie has known the Gallagher family for the best part of a decade, including Jamie.

Jamie is Evie's Achilles Heel. Having shared a brief, but embarrassing kiss before he left three years ago. But now Jamie's eighteen and back in Evie's life. But Jamie isn't without his secrets and the relationship between the two is as intense as it is forbidden. The romance reminded me of that of Rose and Dimitri in the popular Vampire Academy series, the student teacher aspect and forbidden romance that follows. I really enjoyed Evie and Jamie's relationship, the two teens shared a history together so the seemingly instant love felt more natural.

My only one real complaint was the overload of information once Evie is told exactly who she is. There were so many descriptions and acronyms, that I knew I'd never be able to remember. But I didn't need to. As the storyline progresses, you'll learn what being a Shield entails alongside Evie, as she navigates her new role. First time author Rachael Craw is a born storyteller, she's taken what are seemingly normal teens who are still finding their feet, and throwing them into a world of killers, protectors are rules of how they must now live their lives. But what made the characters so engaging, was her use of dialogue. It's quick, it's witty and realistic between the characters. If you're looking for a sassy, intriguing and unique read, this one is definitely it. Already eagerly awaiting book two in the series, Stray.
Profile Image for Phillip Simpson.
Author 53 books117 followers
October 25, 2015
I loved this book.

Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of Mrs Craw’s writing. This is particularly relevant for me given that I’ve just completed my Masters in Creative writing and have spent the last year dissecting writing, writers and the writing process.

Mrs Craw has a lyrical style. 1st person POV works well with Evie (the main character). The voice is authentic and real. The dialogue is sharp and consistent. I know she is a big fan of Joss Wheldon’s work and it shows in the dialogue at times (I am also a big fan - he's so great at dialogue and character development).

The pacing is very good – interspersing scene setting with action. The action scenes are awesome. Some of the science (i.e. world building) could perhaps come across as a little info dumpy but I like that sort of stuff so it didn’t bother me.

She is very good at starting in-scene and doesn’t overdo things in terms of metaphors or similes (which does happen with first time authors in an effort to impress) - yet there’s still some fantastic and vivid descriptive writing.

I loved the premise (but then again, I love science) so it kept me hooked. I’m not going to go into it here given that every other reviewer has written a plot summary but DNA tinkering has always fascinated me (I would love to be a mutant). I’m a big fan of strong female characters (especially ones that don’t have to be saved by some strapping male) so Spark ticked all the boxes for me.

This is a very impressive debut from an extremely promising author. I’m a bit jealous actually. Wish my first book was half as good as this. Looking forward to reading the next instalment (Stray). Well played, Mrs Craw. Well played indeed.
Profile Image for Steph Cuthbert.
Author 2 books21 followers
September 14, 2016
This was a re-read.

What a ride. Spark packs such a punch, it always leaves me reeling. Spark is an incredible and heady mix of kick-ass, adrenaline-fuelled action, beautiful and overwhelming teen angst, lusty times, laugh out loud moments, and feeeeeeels.

I adore these characters so much. The friendship between Evie and Kitty is everything that female friendship should be- beautiful and vulnerable and supportive.

Jamie is oh-so worthy of being the love interest in this story. He is strong and loyal and hot. Also, he is never afraid to admit how he feels about Evie.

Miriam is so utterly flawed but always with the best intentions at heart. The revelation at the end makes my heart break for her. I identified with her so much.

Rachael Craw writes with skill, yes, but more importantly with heart and her own voice. I could feel her gorgeous soul pressed between the pages of this book, and I loved spending time in her company while reading Spark. It truly was like hanging out with a friend.
Profile Image for Ariana.
938 reviews1,303 followers
Want to read
December 9, 2014
Take #1:
Such a beautiful cover and aussie nonetheless. I have a spot soft for authors from there, I usually love their books and I hope that it will be the case with this one too.

Take #2:
Pff... Let's make this simple! LOL
Lovely cover, beautiful description, I definitely can't wait to read it!

I would need half a neuron more to rewrite the above, which I lack at this particular moment :)) But hopefully Santa will be kind enough to bring me an atlas next to all the books I asked for ^_^

Profile Image for Jananee (headinherbooks).
177 reviews299 followers
June 23, 2016
The Rating: 4/5

The Overall, Non-Spoiler Review:
YAY! Another win for Oz fiction! (even though technically Rachael is from NZ but it was still awesome). And another win for YA sci-fi which I am finding that I love just as much as YA fantasy and I hope that all the future books I read can be as fun as this one.

This book had many wins - it was fast paced, had a wonderful flow to the story, great family dynamics (which is INCREDIBLY rare in YA fiction) and a great romance that didn't overpower the plot but instead complemented it.

Although the clichés were prevalent at times and the knowledge thrown at you was a little intense, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting read and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy!

Beware of minor spoilers down below!

The World Building
This was a really good set-up for the rest of the series and introduced all the science and history behind the Strays, Shields and Sparks. HOWEVER, at times the information was a lot to take in but you get used to it as you keep on reading the story and everything kind of clicks together. I am really interested to learn more about Affinity and in particular why they are so interested in controlling everyone's lives (but I guess being an evil corporation is reason enough right?).

OH, I also adored Jamie's friends and the whole high-school setting of the book. Not only was it hilarious to read about their interactions with Evie and with each other, it was also nice to know that although Evie has to save the world, she is expected to go to school as well and doesn't just drop all her responsibilities like so many of her fellow YA heroes and heroines magically do.

The Plot
SUPERHEROES! I love superheroes and this book dealt with them spectacularly, adding in sci-fi elements and a overaching evil corporation to top it all off. I think the joy of this book is actually going into it with knowing too much and discovering it for yourself so I will stop myself before I give away too much!

BUT HOLY MOTHER OF PLOT TWISTS. Usually I pride myself on seeing twists far before they actually happen but I did not see that coming. I want to pick up the second book right now just so I can see Evie deals with the situation she has been thrown into because boy, has her life been an emotional rollercoaster recently.

The Characters
I really did like Evie but at times, she tended to be a *tad* overdramatic and suffered a little bit too much from the "special snowflake syndrome" - however, if anyone has a reason to be dramatic it is her! I also really enjoyed her relationship with Jamie (i.e. the attractive, built, British boyfriend - seriously where can you wrong?!) and I thought they has a nice build up without it being too overpowering. Urgh but I sense drama and I REALLY hope they end up happy together because they are too cute to be cruelly separated.

I also really enjoyed all the family connections and the solid unit that Barb, Leonard and Miriam provide to the kids. I feel like in a lot of YA fiction, family dynamics are often portrayed negatively or are missing altogether and so this was a refreshing take. However I did not appreciate the way in which they tried to hide everything from Kitty - I think she is a really strong character (she was literally being hunted the whole book and she held up so well) and I think the others need to start treating her as such.
Profile Image for Ella.
568 reviews108 followers
July 23, 2015
Ok, this was excellent! I didn't think I'd enjoy it this much but I really did!! And I just love the fact Rachael is a kiwi author because her writing is so good and she's such a lovely person but also because I read hardly any good YA books written by NZ authors and so I'm just really happy ok?!!!

I need STRAY like, NOW!
Profile Image for Lynette Noni.
Author 20 books4,502 followers
October 18, 2015
I seriously enjoyed this book! The concept is really cool—not to mention, unique—and the characters were all very realistic and likeable. I devoured it in one sitting - so that alone says enough!
Profile Image for Eleanor.
28 reviews
November 3, 2016
So amazing. I loved it, and can't wait to read the others! I really hope that they will make this series into a movie, because it would be so popular!
Profile Image for Aentee.
136 reviews438 followers
August 10, 2015
This review is crossposted at my blog, Read at Midnight.

I spent my formative years in New Zealand, I’m a self-identified Kiwi through and through. When I heard that Spark was written by a Kiwi, and that it’s a science fiction riddled with genetic hijinks, it was an insta-buy. Though I felt some parts of the book could use polishing, I love the creativity and uniqueness of the world building. I unreservedly recommend it to everyone after a fresh take on scifi!

Firstly, an infographic, as I think it’s the easiest way to summarise the complicated premise:

Credit: The silhouettes used in the infographic above was provided by Freepik & Vectoropenstock.


“It’s called the Fixation Effect.” It’s what you experience when you think of Kitty, when you see her, what you feel, that sense of being drawn to her. For a Shield, it’s what compels us to protect our Spark. But for the Stray, you take everything you feel about Kitty and twist it so she no longer looks like the victim who needs your help but the virus destroying your sanity and threatening your life.”

In this world hides a secret organisation that specialises in eugenics, secretly modifying genetics for commercial and military purposes for decades. Evie is an unwitting Shield, DNA-bound to protect her best friend and Spark, Kitty. She has super enhanced strength, distress frequency detection, speed, recovery, the works… to help her accomplish this task. On the flipside of this is an unknown Striker, whose instinctively obliged to eliminate Kitty. Once Kitty is theoretically removed, this Striker will become a Stray – an aggressive being who preys on targets indiscriminately.

If you think that’s convoluted, you should have seen my face when I was reading the book. I went crazy highlighting pages on my Kindle just so I could report this back in a semi-coherent manner for y’all. Apparently the secret organisation liked to create complication for themselves, instead of engineering just super soldiers ala Captain America: they also accidentally engineered his nemesis and weakness.

However, I must say I loved this set up and its potential for emotional conflict and action. I just wish that the information was conveyed to readers in a more subtle manner, as most of the set-up was delivered to us by pages of exposition. I guess I can’t blame the book, I had to literally resort to using infographic to convey the same information to you guys- it’s a tough one.


“Kitty is the Spark for the synthetic gene in your DNA. You’ve transitioned.” Her brow furrows. “It’s what you were made for – you’re a Shield, Evangeline. Shields are defenders, protectors. Turns out you were made to protect Kitty.”

One of the reasons I love the premise is how it forces us to have character interactions and question these relationships. What will it feel like to have your best friend obliged to protect you with her life? What will it feel like to be so compelled to defend someone, you sometimes forget about your own emotional needs?

I was conflicted about Evie, but I think she was conflicted about herself. I sensed so much confusion in her during this book that I wasn’t sure what to make of her. I had no clear grasp on what drives her and what makes her tick, aside from her genetic tendency to protect Evie + her hormonal tendency to makeout with her love interest (understandable!). I hope that questions about her self-will will be introduced in future books (it was actually brushed on in the last pages of this book).

Kitty is also a bit of a mystery to me, but I enjoyed seeing her relationship with both her brother and Evie. Speaking of her brother, I have to be seated and swoon a little, Jamie is sorta really hot? I can totally understand why Evie got sidetracked in his presence. Hope to see more of him and what his deal is in the next book as well.


Another thing that confused me slightly about this book is its pacing, at the beginning and the end it moved quite fast – but otherwise it was quite slow and uneventful. It could have stood to lose at least 50 of its 400+ pages. I also felt that a lot of the book was setting up for later installments, as we never got to see the ominous figures from The Affinity Project. You’re holding back on me, book, and I don’t like it! *impatient*. Guess it means I have to pick up the next book!

Nonetheless, when the plot got going, the writing was great and suspenseful – I loved the great mix of emotion in the action scenes and they were some of my highlights in this book.

Bottom Line? You should all just go and buy Spark just on the basis of the awesome premise alone. I have heard from credible, twittery sources that the sequel improves on the story, so I remain optimistic despite the few hiccups I had here. Plus, Kiwi writers need to loved and adored (same with Kiwi bloggers ;))
April 14, 2015
Initial reaction: This book was exactly what I needed to pull me from the depths of my shameful reading slump. I was looking for something exhilarating and intense, that was exactly what I got from Spark. I was in a constant state of anxiety whilst reading this book and every page supplied me with intense action (as well as emotional exhaustion.) I am filled with love for this book! Thank you to the author herself, Rachael, for recommending it to me! I'm definitely out of my slump. Now I just have to figure out what to do with myself while waiting for Stray to be released.

Full review:


5/5 stars

I have been the victim of a terrible reading slump for the past three weeks, but it all ended when I picked up Spark. This book was exactly what I needed to pull me from the depths of my shameful reading slump. After starting and abruptly putting down several books, I decided that I needed something exhilarating and intense, something that would grab and keep a hold of my interest. That is exactly what I found in Spark.

The entire premise of the story had me intrigued from the very first page. I mean, DNA modification used for private security but then gone wrong? Count me in! The topics of people with abilities and modified DNA are two of the things that really seem to fascinate me. The entire idea of The Affinity Project, Shields, Sparks and Strays absolutely blew my mind. It was such an incredibly unique concept THAT I found it to be quite refreshing.

The world-building and the back story of the Affinity Project was extremely in-depth but at times the new terms and jargon threw me off a little bit, and I was left a little bit confused. Not too much that I didn’t figure out eventually, though. I do appreciate the attention to detail that went into the backstory, and it was set in a way that made it seem totally plausible. Every element was explained properly, so there wasn’t the information overload that tends to plague a number of YA science fiction novels.

Evie was an incredible main character, there is no denying it. If there is one word that I would use to describe her performance throughout the novel it would be: genuine. I felt like her reactions to the circumstances were quite realistic for a teenage girl, and when they were a little bit extreme, I could understand that it was the influence of her modified DNA. It was wonderful to watch her develop as a character and grow as a person as she learnt to control her new abilities and use them to her advantage. But what I loved most about Evie was her loyalty and ever-present concern for the safety and well-being of those around her. I think this was incredibly effective because though she may have viewed herself as not being completely ‘human’ anymore or as a ‘mutt’ she retained these beautifully genuine human traits.

The complicated nature of Evie’s relationships with the Gallaghers and especially Miriam, were wonderfully done and really set a realistic tone to the novel. Evie’s relationship with Kitty was also very well done, and I was constantly in awe of her loyalty and protectiveness over her best friend. I wish I had a best friend like her! Oh, and we can’t forget about Jamie. Oh lord. That boy had me feeling some sort of way. His relationship with Evie, though it had its many ups and downs, felt very genuine to the situation and played a large factor in my love for this book.

The intense action and exhilaration that I had been craving were definitely there and they were beautifully done. Though there may have been a couple of slow spots, those were largely outnumbered by the mind-blowing plot twists and highs. There were some plot twists that had my hand over my mouth in pure shock, and I was turning the pages so quickly that If I hadn’t been reading on my kindle but a physical copy, the pages would have ripped right off. The mystery had me hooked from the get-go, and I was second guessing every character I came across in suspicion.

Spark had me hooked from the very beginning. It pulled me into it’s pages and put me in a constant state of anxiety while also providing me with intense and exhilarating action (and emotional exhaustion). I am filled to the top with love for this book, and I can confidently say it is one of my favourite YA sci-fi reads of the year. A massive thank you to the author herself, Rachael Craw, for recommending it to me on twitter and getting me out of my dreadful slump! I can’t wait to see what comes next, I’ll definitely be counting down the days until the release of Stray!

If you haven't already read this one, I definitely recommend that you do!
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,006 reviews3,600 followers
June 26, 2014
This review originally appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

Spark features an interesting concept about genetic mutations in a select number of humans, that determine their role to play people based on their DNA - the Shield (protector), the Spark (igniter) and the Stray (the aggressor).

Evie is the Shield who has just been sparked by her best friend Kitty, and she finds herself developing great reflexes, enhanced senses, a healing ability, the ability to see people's memories, feel people's frequencies, and an unhealthy fixation on Kitty's safety. It turns out she's a Shield who has developed her powers, and her job is to protect Kitty from her Stray, who will hunt her down to spark their own powers.

I really liked Evie, her determination to protect Kitty despite the odds and her strength of character, and it was funny seeing her act like a possessive boyfriend at times. Her behaviour was understandable given the Fixation Effect, to ensure she will be able to sense a threat to Kitty at all times. Their relationship reminded me of the girls from Vampire Academy, where one is the protector and the other is the best friend. Kitty took her best friend's new role all in stride as she was afraid of the impending attack.

The concept of DNA manipulation to breed fighters for private security was really interesting. Shields, Sparks and Strays have an interesting relationship with each other, as the Strays will hunt down the Sparks who will die once triggered. Having this secret world in society where super humans are about was a fascinating new twist. Although the sci-fi elements were explained in a brain burning scientific manner early on, I managed to pick up the concepts along the way as the story was told. I had to refer back to the explanation a few times during the book, as there'll be appreciations used such as KMT which wouldn't really be explained again.

There is a well-developed romance between Evie and Jamie, Kitty's brother. They have a history together but they will bond even further through their training and amplified attraction to each other. Both of them are Shields, and they have a rare, Synergist bond where they both amplify each others abilities. The couple have great chemistry, and I liked how it never overtook their main objective in protecting Kitty (despite what their families thought).

Spark felt like it could have been condensed into fewer pages, at over 400 pages it felt like the pace was rather slow at times. This could be due to the range of characters who were developed throughout the novel. It does pick up towards the end though, with an action-packed ending and lots of twists and turns along the way.

Spark's scientific twist on enhanced human beings was the highlight as it was developed well throughout the novel. Although it tended to be heavy on the concepts, I really enjoyed how they were weaved into the story. Featuring excellent character development and a romance I can ship, I really enjoyed Spark.

I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sass.
364 reviews30 followers
June 3, 2015
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I love this book. Love. The concept is interesting, the tension in the action scenes is killer, the friendship between Kitty and Evie is fantastic (I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing more of that in future books where it's not tainted by the Spark effects). I LOVE that the parental figures have a role in the book, even if Evie's mother has just died, her aunt Miriam and Kitty and Jamie's parents are very much a feature.

The only reason that Spark doesn't rate the full five stars from me is I felt like while the supernatural elements worldbuilding is excellent, the Middle America setting was a bit blah and featureless for me. Maybe it would have felt more authentic if it weren't set in the US? I don't know.

But it's a relatively minor point. The characters are brilliant, the plotting is strong, and there are some really interesting issues raised to be explored in the rest of the trilogy. I can't wait for Stray!
Profile Image for Libby Wyatt.
320 reviews22 followers
January 28, 2015
This was definitely one of the better reads of this month for me personally. This was unique and oddly addictive. I felt it had a Vampire Academy feel through a protector friendship between Kitty and Evie. Though there were moments of confusion and predictability I did enjoy this thoroughly and was a quick read. The romance I felt was a little forced and predictable but was cute in a sense. The plot twist was almost predictable but it was good nonetheless. Overall I really enjoyed this book and look forward to see where this series will travel in the future!
Profile Image for Laureen (Ms. Bibliophile).
297 reviews32 followers
November 22, 2016
Evie is an interesting character, and I really loved the idea of Shields and how they came online as it were. The intense emotions from Evie and Jamie were well done, and I loved how Evie was so committed to keeping her best friend alive. The idea that Evie will have to relive those emotions over and over again with different people she is meant to protect is intense and I can't wait to read more.
Profile Image for Inês Matos.
50 reviews
August 28, 2017
I don't know why this isn't famous... I found Spark by mistake when I was googling for other book and it is perfect! I thought it would be about magic (Spark reminds me of magic sorry) but it is very "sciency" and it's so incredible because I can truly believe that it could happen in "real" life.
Congratulations Rachael Craw! It's in my top list 👌
Profile Image for Stef Gemmill.
Author 6 books4 followers
March 14, 2018
Breathtaking fast paced YA with intense romance sub-plot. Love the AI speculative bend on the narrative. Devouring Stray#2 as I type...
Profile Image for Samantha.
73 reviews3 followers
August 26, 2016
Second read: I can only describe my current state as me being the heart eyed emoji. I love this story so much. I had a stupid smile on my face for most of the reread but still felt panicked in the right places, even though I know all the twists and turns. This book will be one of my all time favourites forever.

First read: I cannot handle my love for this book. I want it made into a movie and I want Liana Liberato and Lily Collins to star and I want the second and third books to come out now. Time travel, go!

I found this book through the lovely Melissa Keil (who I usually tag as #bdbfavourite). Young Adult authors recommending books by other Young Adult authors? My favourite.

Spark is an incredible novel, its story woven with adventure, friendship, family and love. Of course. I think I managed to read this one in a day, I found it so hard to put down. Here’s the quote found on the back cover:

“You think God has a loophole for people who don’t have a choice?”
Jamie shrugs.
“Hope so, otherwise we’re screwed.”


It’s very Divergent-esque, but I think that’s what I love about it. It’s the same in some ways, but different in others. Rachael Craw, unlike Veronica Roth, doesn’t jump the gun. Every single step throughout each page in Spark is thought out, and if not answered straight away, it is by the end of the book. Speaking of, that ending. I know that’s the way all books with sequels are destined to end, but…come on. I can’t handle that. I read this book almost a month ago and I’m still reeling about it.

So I’m pretty stoked I can add Spark to my favourites list, and that there are two books coming over the next two years for me to freak out about. Plus, Rachael Craw is a lovely lady. This is definitely a re-read. And Hollywood? I better not be waiting for that movie in two years time.
Profile Image for Sue.
Author 24 books61 followers
April 18, 2015
Look out world, here comes Evie. She’s just discovered that her genes are the result of a cack-handed scientific programme designed to produce genetically engineered protectors and killers, called Shields and Strays. Evie is a Shield, and therefore has no choice other than to protect her ‘Spark’ – a person under threat from a Stray (are you keeping up?).

Add into this the fact that Evie’s Spark is her best friend, Kitty, and Kitty’s brother, Jamie, is the hottest guy in town. Jamie also happened to give Evie her first kiss, three years ago, before jetting off to complete his exceedingly expensive education, paid for by his exceeding well-off parents. Oh yes, Jamie is rich, posh, and hot.

Mutated genes and hormones going wild. No wonder the writing bowls along at a such a breathless pace. It settles into familiar YA territory: strong female protagonist confused by her feelings towards hot guy; forbidden love; super-human powers; saying hateful things to those you love and regretting it straight afterwards. But the question posed by the series – can we overcome our DNA? – adds an intriguing layer. As with Bella Swan in Twilight, Evie appears to be the first of a new kind, as she can do things others in the programme cannot. It will be interesting to see how this DNA vs free will conflict pans out in the second and third in the trilogy.

But having mentioned that vampire book, I should say that Evie and Kitty are more fun than Bella and her crew, and Rachael Craw’s humour lightens the intensity of the plot.

Spark is the first of a trilogy but is a complete story in its own right. Highly recommended for fans of YA and science-fiction.
Profile Image for Hazel.
10 reviews42 followers
October 9, 2014
What can I say about 'Spark' by Rachael Craw, well nothing bad that's for sure, I absolutely loved this book! Without a doubt I am very excited for the next in the series! I recommend any fans of 'Divergent' or 'The Hunger Games' to read this novel as you cannot help but love it!

'Spark' is about genetically advanced people that have inherited the genes from previous generations that have been a 'carrier'. It's got a lot of big words and at sometimes it was hard to follow when things were being explained, but this is all resolved as you learn and begin to understand at the same rate that the main heroine does. It is very relate-able for young adults, as you can easily picture what the characters are going through and the possibility of it happening in real life.

It's got a very strong lead female with the beautiful name of Evangeline. Shes got an awesome best friend with the super cute name of Kitty, with a super gorgeous twin brother that goes by Jamie (who has some history with Evie). So basically it's got some kick ass action scenes, an interesting love story that I definitely OTP, and some cool high school moments chucked in between!

This is my new fave book at the moment and I can't really go into detail about what it's about cause that would cause major spoilers, and nobody likes a spoiler!

I give this outstanding book and it's companion short story along with it a whooping well deserved 5 stars! ✯✯✯✯✯

1 review
August 4, 2014
I absolutely LOVED this book. I happened upon it in Dymocks in Hobart while my kids were choosing books, and was drawn to it. It is the best read I've had since Twilight, and this is saying something. The writing is intelligent, witty, insightful, and very easy to read; the story is captivating and exciting, and not so far from the realms of possibility. The characters are distinctive, deep, and all completely loveable. The love story...for those of us who are married with now teenage kids...it's like remembering something important. I love a book that I can share with my 11 year old daughter, who is an obsessive and critical reader, and see her enjoy it as much as I did. She's a mentally mature 11 year old, otherwise I would have held her back for a few years so she could fully appreciate the story. But she (is currently reading it and) loves it too. And what is a proper, decadent, lush read without an excellent twist? Yes, there's a twist. My only problem is that now I have to wait for books two and three. AND, I ask, WHEN IS THE MOVIE COMING OUT??? Rachael Craw is a writer to watch. I will certainly be reading everything she writes.
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