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It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA.

Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, 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 may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.

425 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2015

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About the author

Rachael Craw

8 books423 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
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345 (35%)
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140 (14%)
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29 (2%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 145 reviews
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,003 reviews3,308 followers
September 1, 2015
What a fast paced and exciting adventure!! I just love Evie and Kitty's supportive friendship and the snarky lines and humour! AND JAMIE WHAT A HOTTIE. This one is filled with twists and turns and pure awesomeness and I can't wait to let you guys know how much I loved it in my full review!


This review appears on Happy Indulgence! Check it out for more reviews.

If you’re looking for a YA sci-fi read with a unique concept and lots of action, then the Spark series is perfect! The first book introduced us to the concept of Sparks, Strays and Shields who are genetically engineered to activate, protect and hunt each other down with enhanced abilities. Stray really hits the ground running by amping everything up – from the nonstop action, to the fast paced plot, twists and fun banter and relationships between Evie, her family and friends.

Stray is filled with competing scientific agendas at the hands of the Affinity Project – those who have genetically modified Evie and her friends, and it’s terrifying how she’s at the Mercy of them. Evie is poked, prodded, and even neutered here which serves for a horrifying experience. She’s told what she can and can’t do, who she has to stay away from and how she can’t even have sex with the guy she loves. Despite all of this, Evie’s focused on the things that are important to her- proving her brother Aiden’s innocence, and protecting her best friend Kitty. Evie is kick ass, impulsive, loyal and fiercely protective of her friends and family and I just loved that about her.

While the sci-fi elements were info dumpy in the first book, they are weaved elegantly into the plot of Stray. Although a refresher on the concepts in Spark definitely helped, I loved how the chemical reactions, DNA manipulation and abilities were explained and integrated as part of the story. I did find I had to re-read a few passages to really understand what was going on, but managed to pick things up as the story went on.

But at the heart of Stray, are it’s close knit relationships with friends, family and lovers. I loved the relationship Evie had with her family – Aiden and Miriam, as complicated as their circumstances were. You could sense that the overwhelming feeling between them all was love, and they wanted the best for each other and to protect one another. Evie’s friendship with Kitty was built upon love and support, and I loved their witty banter, their trust for one another and how they would do anything to help each other.

And Jamie was completely HOT. You could just feel the pure chemistry between him and Evie and I just wanted them to truly be together. I loved their banter and how Jamie is such a complete gentlemen with her. Their romance is a forbidden one which is a bit cliche however, but there was so much more happening here for this to be a sore point.

My only criticism with Stray, is that there seems to be so much happening in the novel that leads to a lot of loose threads. I wanted to know more about Proxy and how she came to be, about why there wasn’t really a focus on Miriam and Tesla’s circumstances, more about Strikers, and of course, more development with Jamie. Some of these may be answered in the next book, however. Some of the characters being introduced didn’t really get developed for me, such as Felicity or Benjamin.

With it’s fast pace filled with twists, non-stop action and danger, Stray was an excellent follow up to the sci-fi world of genetically mutated teens. The plot is exciting, intense and constantly moving, with excellent character relationships and a kick ass heroine at its center. I loved all of the scientific twists and can’t wait for the next book!

I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
September 1, 2015
Harder, faster and far more intense than Spark. I fell in love, then I fell apart. Emotional, fierce and I loved every moment.

Stray was explosive! Superhero teens with strength, speed and skill beyond the realm of human DNA. They walk among us, belonging to a ruthless organisation simply known as The Infinity Project, abiding by their rules in order to survive. Evie is a Spark, an engineered protector who only recently learnt that her life has been a lie. Her mother isn't who she thought she was and now Evie has a twin brother, locked away after his attempt on Kitty's life, Evie's best friend who she was created to protect. But as Evie's blood helped breathe life back into Aidan, Evie also believes it has deactivated his urge to harm Kitty and knows the only way to keep him safe is to prove he is no longer a threat. Not an easy task while he is currently behind bars.

True to her nature, Evie is selfless and to free Aidan, she must challenge everything she's been taught and betray both Miriam and Jamie, Kitty's brother and the boy who is destined to be with another. In Stray, Evie faces even greater challenges. She is now being tracked by The Affinity Project, so her controversial relationship with Jamie is on the verge of potentially destroying them both. Readers also learn more about Affinity, the secret organisation that treats those with the unique DNA sequence as mere objects, to manipulate, to control and to do their bidding. Evie is now faster, illegally trained and in order to help Aidan escape and his survival, is forced to take Affinity on... And win.

Stray is by far more emotional than it's predecessor. It was glorious and beautifully written. This series gathers strength with each installment, setting the scene for Evie and the spic showdown against those who believe they can control her. They're sorely mistaken. It's epic and demands to be read.
Profile Image for Grace Love.
86 reviews8 followers
January 4, 2016
I thought the first book was amazing. This one was even better.
I can't even begin to describe what I am feeling right now.
This book filled me with so much hope, and then grief, and THEN utter disbelief + more grief. It was the perfect book to start the year off with and I am so glad that I had the amazing opportunity to read and escape into this phenomenal world yet again. It's books like this that make reading and endless hours of sleeplessness totally worthwhile, and I just can't express how happy I am that this book exists! This trilogy is definitely a favourite in the making and I'm sure that the final instalment will be just as fantastic.
The characters were all still so intriguing and original, and the plot was just as mind blowing and SCARY as the one in 'Spark'. Rachael definitely has her own groove and distinct style in the book world and it will never cease to amaze me. I cannot wait, literally, CANNOT WAIT, for 'Shield', because I need to know EVERYTHING else that accompanies this story and the characters within, as it has built and now holds a permanent threshold to the place that is my heart.
The countdown begins.

If you have not yet read these books, I advise that you drop everything that you are currently doing and go and buy or borrow a copy and allow yourself the gift of Rachel Craw's writing. You will not be disappointed.
Rachael, you have done it again. Please never stop!!!!

Profile Image for Ryan Buckby.
645 reviews86 followers
October 29, 2016

i literally thought the first book was good but this book took me on an adventure where there was no point of return, everything that i wanted at the end of the first book i got in this book and i loved every single page.

The character development and story progression were on point in this story it was a serious step up from the first book. Evie's character in this book has changed so much from the first book, all of the choices she made will effect not only her but every other character going into the third book. I really thought Evie was going to get what she was working really hard for she came really close i was rooting for her so hard but i do hope she gets it in the last book.

The whole proxy and how it was raised was terrifying, like sacrificing a poor defenseless child in order to get more power over other people mad me so mad. Affinity is absolutely crazy and psychotic that i can't wrap my head around why they are doing it. Jamie did leave me heartbroken in this book but he did make up for it though, but i do love Jamie and Evie together they just work so well

showdown between Evie and Davis in shield please please let this happen because i want Davis to lose and go down!

this trilogy is becoming one of my favourite series, i strongly recommend everyone start this series because it really does live up to every expectation!
435 reviews8 followers
June 1, 2015
Oh my... Rachael Craw, you wonderful author you, have done it again. Wait until you read this one!!!
Profile Image for Lexi // libraryoflexi.
300 reviews10 followers
February 16, 2016
I received this wonderful book thanks to a Goodreads Giveaway!

I. Need. The. Next. Book. NOW!

Also I cried for Aiden. Cried so much.
Dammit. Why Aiden *cries for the next 10 years*

EDIT - the next morning:
Now that I've slept on it I feel like I'm more able to review it apart from just GIMMEGIMMEGIMME.

These books are so refreshing. I have never read anything like it. The whole concept just blew me away.
Also as much as the Aiden part made me cry I love how much Rachael Craw was about to step outside her comfort zone. Like you see so many authors avoiding doing something like that.
Not that I'm condoning this! I might not live through another one D:

Anyways! If you're here, like I was once, looking at reviews and deciding whether to buy and read it.

Now excuse me while I return to my blanket fort and continue crying
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emily Mead.
569 reviews
July 27, 2015
Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. My poor heart.

GAH, I'll save some of my thoughts for the actual review, but guys, you're going to LOVE this. It's so much darker and more intense and there's the PROXY who is such a cool character and Kitty (LOVE KITTY) is sassy as ever and I just aslkjdlkdsldkf.

I loved it so much <3
Profile Image for Lulai.
1,253 reviews158 followers
October 19, 2015
I'm kind of a wreck with this ending.
Profile Image for Elly.
1,054 reviews60 followers
September 9, 2016
A little disappointed in myself for not giving Spark four stars so that I could top that with five for Stray because let me tell you; Stray tops that. Review below also appears at http://elspethlamorte.wordpress.com.


Sequels are tricky. They are tricky because you're not just trying to impress a new audience, you're trying to keep the one you already have. Intentions have changed because the reader knows the characters, they know the setting, and consequently there is more room for plot.

Personally, I love sequels, or at the very least I love the idea of them. There are a lot of series where the second book just didn't grab me in any way (for example the Scorch Trials caused me to lose interest in the entire series and the Chamber of Secrets is still by far my least favourite Harry Potter book) but then you look at series that just get better and better with each book (Throne of Glass series anyone?)...

This is one of those series. My immediate thought upon finishing Stray was actually to wonder if it would be terrible to go back and change my review of Spark to four stars just so that I could highlight how much better Stray is (Rachael has forbidden me to do this and we all know authors are delicate and prone to hysterics* so I'd better not distress her). My follow up thoughts were all on the theme of emotional devastation because RACHAEL CRAW IS A SADIST.

Spark introduced us to the newly superpowered Evie who just wants to behave like a teenager and not be responsible for things all the time, it introduced us to Kitty aka the cutest person on the planet and it introduced us to Jamie 'Hot Stuff' Gallagher who is nice to look at but occasionally says or does stupid things because he is A Boy™. In Stray we get to know them all so much better and I was particularly thrilled by the amount of time spent with Kitty! Besties are important you guys, and as previously mentioned... Kitty is the cutest.

This is an intense book, and I mean that in the sense that the action just keeps coming. Emotionally devastating action at that and honestly if you escape this book without even being just a little bit devastated emotionally I don't think we can be friends. (It's probable that a friend of mine has asked if it's possible to sue an author for such emotional devastation.)

Unfortunately... because this is a sequel and I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't read Spark or hasn't made it to Stray yet I can't get too much into detail without my sentences looking like mail from 1941 as I agonise over the part where [redacted] was in the room with [redacted] and as a consequence [redacted] [redacted] and I wanted to scream. So I will say this; Stray might just be a perfect sequel. It finds new ways for us to love the series and the characters and as a story it's just so much stronger than its predecessor.

If you're new to the series now is the perfect time to pick it up, you can yell at me later.

*What do you mean that's just me?
Profile Image for Samantha.
73 reviews3 followers
August 28, 2016
So apparently I forgot how this book ended because this is my second read and I'm a mess? Like, the tears everywhere, sore eyes kind of mess. Uh Rachael, how dare you? Also, I'm hopelessly attached to this series. I am so scared and excited to read Shield!! I love Stray, mostly for its complex relationships...you learn so much about every character. Oh man. The book hangover right now is in full swing!
Profile Image for Renee.
201 reviews86 followers
September 6, 2015

First of all, this took me a long time to read because unfortunately sometimes when you're in your final year of school and it's the most intense time of year with all the homework ever *sigh* you have to put some things before books. (Which makes me sad!) BUT! Regardless of how long it took me to read it, I STILL LOVED STRAY SOOOOO MUCH!!!

Stray is the second 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.

Continuing from where Spark finished off, Evie Everton and her friends are nervously awaiting a reprimand from The Affinity, the secret organisation in charge of controlling and training Shields, as well as trying to protect Sparks and eliminate Strays who threaten them. After so far escaped the notice of the organisation and participating in unapproved, Affinity-questionable activity, there is only so much time until someone comes to investigate. However, without the watchful gaze of The Affinity, Evie with the help of Kitty, Jamie and Miriam has witnessed something that could change the lives of the genetically modified forever.

From Halloween parties with her best friend Kitty and boyfriend Jamie, to breaking and entering into a detention centre, to being on the run, to Kinetic Memory Transfer and Kinetic Memory Harvest, and the desperation of love, lust and loss, Evie's life is about to change forever. But will she get a say in how it changes? Can she control her life when it seems her life is being controlled for her? And if she knows a truth so bone-deep within herself, how can she convince the Affinity without putting those she cares about in danger?

Rachael Craw, you've done it again! Stray was as fabulous as the first one, with the same intense action and twisting mystery and suspense, interjected with HILARIOUS wit and humour, followed by crippling sadness! (No really, I was really VERY sad at some points!) I don't know how, but Rachael Craw has this fascinating way of making you FEEL MANY THINGS!!! There were countless times when I was gripping the book, or giggling manically to myself, or slamming down the book in awe/disbelief/NO WAY! because of a sentence or plot twist!

Craw's writing is fluid and descriptive, yet manages to draw out the right amount of tension and inject the energy into fast-paced (with one very well written slow motion!) action scenes. So many times I could vividly picture the scenes happening and I truly feel like I've been on Evie's journey with her. The inner discourse of Evie is so relatable and realistic, especially during scenes where she is conflicted or in a difficult situation. Her bravery and self talk is witty and confident and her confidence is vital in making the decisions she does and carrying them through. The exploration and dedication to Evie's characterisation and responses was really well done and is really what drove the story. She is a determined, strong-willed and outspoken character who is inspiring in her motives and actions, but who is also sassy and hilarious especially in lighter scenes with Kitty and Jamie! *cough* Champagne anyone? *cough* I admire her determination to help others, I LOVE her kickass plans and am in awe of her strength and fighting for the truth! Also, she has a pretty cool knack for figuring things out with common sense - YAY! HOORAY FOR EVIE!!!

Meanwhile, The Affinity. I DO NOT LIKE THE AFFINITY!!! Although they aren't explicitly 'the bad guys,' they are the controlling, narrow minded, stuck-to-the-old-ways type of organisation. They are manipulative and prying and don't like to be challenged. As much as I dislike them, they are some well written bad guys. They'll make you squirm. Also they have large needles and tasers.

The Proxy, who is another new character, is very interesting, slightly crazy, okay maybe A LOT crazy and sneaky. She ties in really well with the plot and helps to uncover some truths. I have to say she may be one of my favourite and most complex, interesting characters because you don't know whether to trust her or not, whose side she's on, whether she's good or bad, what her intentions are, yet you also get to know her enough to understand her motives. Plus she has cool eyes.

Like Spark, Rachael includes little references with etymology (or maybe I'm reading into things too much again!) which make her work richer and more complex and in some points hint at the plot.
E.g A character called 'Tesla' who is high up in The Affinity, reference to the founder of electricity (and y'know, 'Sparks' of electricity!)
Also, I've discussed this with Rachael, but a character called Helena who appears to be pining over love she can't have, seemed to me like a reference to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and fit in very well with the plot, but she swears she didn't mean it! (I still think it's cool.)

Jamie. *swoons* Jamie Gallagher is gorgeous, not going to lie, but in Stray, he was a bit of a dumby. It makes me sad when my ships aren't together, or are fighting or are frustrated with each other, but as Jamie points out very wisely: "You know, it is possible to be incredibly disappointed and angry with someone...and hurt and terrified by their choices...and still be in love with them at the same time." Ahh Jamie so smart. If we weren't from Evie's POV I probably would have agreed with him and his worries more, BUT, we were in Evie's POV so I didn't. I AM SO READY FOR MORE EVIE JAMIE ACTION IN SHIELD!!! It was really heating up in some parts of Stray! (Nothing too serious, don't you worry children.)

Finally, WATCH OUT FOR PLOT TWISTS BECAUSE JUST WHEN YOU THINK IT'S GOING TO BE ALL SUNSHINE AND DAISIES AND LOLLIPOPS- well, you all know what a plot twist is. (But MAN can that Rachael Craw plot twist!)

Overall, YOU SHOULD ALL JUST READ STRAY! NOW! Actually make sure you've read Spark first because otherwise you'll have no clue what is going on, but then YES READ READ READ!!!! 5 OUT OF 5 STARS TO THIS GLORIOUS AMAZING BOOK!!! Hopefully you finish it quicker than I did due to less homework and more time.
Profile Image for Bethany.
32 reviews
February 26, 2017
I have no idea where to begin. First off, it was really good. I just loved it! Probably the best sequel I have read in a long time. It's a shame that I still technically went it blind as I forgot what exactly happened in Spark. Oops. But oh well. I still enjoyed. I started remembering what happened in Spark because as I continued, I remembered Evie's determination to protect Kitty from her brother, Aiden. And her looooooooove with Jamie~

Oh yeah, Aiden. Tears were spilt. Why did HE have to die?? WHY???

This is becoming a mess of a review. Let's go back to square one. Stray starts off where Spark ended, I think. Hard to remember. Probably did if it's a sequel. Okay maybe not, as it opens up with Evie getting drunk (Thank you Kitty) when she shouldn't have, and doing an awesome jump over a refreshments tables because some cheerleader was clinging to Jamie. A+ right there! Thank you Kitty. Thank you. And then after that is when things get messy. In a good way. Poor Evie gets checked out/examined by the I Don't Know, the ones behind it all. Yay. Pretty interesting actually. And if I remember correctly, it was after that, Evie just pretty much takes Kitty with her to get her brother out of custody (my brain...I'm forgetting already! So sorry!). Wow, Kitty doesn't exactly join her in the break in. Even though that would have been really interesting. Kitty doing awesome stunts would have been fun to read. Knocking out some guards while she's at it. Evie gets Aiden out of there (made me laugh in several parts too), things happen, Kitty and Evie literally cuddle up to Aiden to warm him up. That is a every man's dream, I think. Is it? Kitty cuts Evie's tracker out, they drop Aiden off at the train station, and Kitty and Evie go to a, what's it called...service station...only to bump into Benjamin and Davis. Okay, I'm not gonna summarise the whole book otherwise...you're gonna be seeing me slowly forget minor details.

Let's get to Aiden's death. When he died, I actually had no idea what was going on. I thought it was all a dream sequence so I was like, "he's not dead" until I reached the next chapter and realised, he was dead. I was so sad. Like, no! Aiden. Why him of all people? Why not...Benjamin??? I really hated Benjamin. I knew something was up...Never liked him. Surprisingly i really liked Davis. But Aiden. I will forever be crying inside for him. He was an angel. Screw you Proxy! And Benjamin!

Alright, as usual, there is always something that annoys me in a book. Jamie and Evie's relationship. I know everything was going by really fast but I really thought the whole Jamie being upset with Evie part because Kitty decided to help her with Aiden was a little forced. It happens in almost every young adult book. Where the main couple don't sit down and explain to each other about their actions. Like, I thought those two could have figured it out three quarters of the way through the book. Well, that's just me though. Maybe I'm getting sick of the couples fight and don't work it out till the end trope.

Ah, all in all, I liked the book! I'm glad we found out who Evie and Aiden's father was. Ethan...gosh I loved him. And oh my god! Evie's fainting thing was cured! Yay, for Proxy! YAY! No more fainting spells for Evie! No, for Aiden! I hope he comes back from the dead in Shield.
Profile Image for Jananee (headinherbooks).
172 reviews298 followers
October 9, 2016
For more reviews, check out my blog --> www.headinherbooks.wordpress.com

The Rating: 5/5 Stars

This book was PHENOMENAL, FANTASTIC, SUPERB and every other synonym you can think of. I am not even exaggerating - I mourned every time (damn you, real life) I had to put this book down because I just wanted to be back right there with the characters and in the world that Rachael Craw so wonderfully crafted.

This book continues on from where Spark ended, showing how Evie deals with some of the huge revelations that were made at the end of the first book. I know the term 'strong female character' is thrown around left, right and centre to describe YA protagonists but it describes Evie really well - she has had so many obstacles thrown at her in such a small space of time and still manages to stay sane throughout it all whilst also maintaining her tenacity of character. Aidan was also a character that I absolutely adored and we get to know a lot more about his character in this book, especially as he struggles with the guilt of his actions in the first book. The dynamic between Evie, Miriam and Aiden was also fascinating and refreshing in a YA world prone to disregarding familial relationships.

Where the first book had problems with info dumping, Stray jumps straight into the narrative, with a fast-paced plot that makes the book difficult to put down. We are also properly introduced to Affinty in this book which adds extra layers to the plot. It was super interesting to see how Shields, Sparks and Strays are actually treated by the institution and the nefarious (totally evil word for a totally evil organisation) people who control it.

Heightening the plot was the relationship between Evie and Jaime which was nothing short of sizzling. All it takes is a dash of forbidden romance and certain chance of death to elevate a relationship to totally angst-filled levels and it was EVERYTHING.

All in all, this was a fantastic addition to the trilogy and my favourite of the lot. The fast-paced plot, dimensional characters and fascinating world of Affinity all combine to create a truly unforgettable book.
Profile Image for Steph Cuthbert.
Author 2 books21 followers
September 19, 2016
It took me 2 days to read 80% of this book. Then it took another 3 days to read the rest because I was sure it would kill me.
Thankfully I'm alive (barely) to give Stray a 5 star review.
I feel like Rachael punched me in the face and then tossed me onto the street where I was trampled by a huge crowd of people, and then I managed to get to my feet to hurry to safety, only to stumble into oncoming traffic and be hit by a truck.

And that is Stray in a nutshell.

Ya'll should read it. Good times. Good times.
Profile Image for Nicole.
27 reviews6 followers
October 25, 2016
The Affinity Project are a bunch of dicks. And I don't like the Proxy either.

In a matter of 2 pages I go from almost crying to joy because the horrible thing I didn't want to happen didn't. AND THEN YOU'RE JUST SITTING THERE IN SHOCK GOING "DID I BLOODY JUST READ THAT?" And then I think I swore a lot but I don't remember. Too busy feeling the cruelness of that ending!!

But you know other than that fantastic book. Thank god I have Shield so I can find out what happens. Please please let them destroy the Affinity Project, the only thing that can bring me happiness right now.
Profile Image for Trisha.
1,919 reviews97 followers
September 1, 2015
I swallowed this up. It's easy to read, and the action and the suspense builds very nicely.

I need to post my review to Megan's blog first, but when I do, I will link it back here.

But trust me, it's all the good things!!

Not out till September.

Update: So it's September 1st, and Stray is out today. And my review is now over at Children's Books Daily. Thank you Megan for letting me ramble on.
Profile Image for Sophie.
13 reviews
January 14, 2016
K now I finished Stray and are extremely angry at Rachael Craw!!! Stray was amazing and now I understand why people say it was killing them because it does!!!! A great sequel to spark and now I can't wait for SHEILD! BUT ITS LIKE 7 MONTHS TILL IT COMES OUT! Anyway so I'm just gonna have to die sulking in a corner with the rest of the Spark fans until flipping Shield comes out! I totally recommend it it is amazing!
Profile Image for Pauline .
779 reviews1 follower
July 22, 2015
Wow this has accelerated the action and pace. Full review to come later. My only problem was that I should have gone back and reread Spark just to remind myself of some of the complexities - has been a while between books for me. Looking forward to reading book 3. Thanks Abbey from Walker for my advance copy!
Profile Image for Audrey.
21 reviews
September 11, 2015
It's so amazing and it's perfection!!! It made me so speechless, the sweetness the bitterness the suspense and oh my god! Hands down the best book I've read so far this year (and most likely my book of the year) absolutely worth saying up for!! My love for this series just grew <3 <3
Profile Image for Sass.
364 reviews30 followers
August 27, 2015
So I loved Spark. Stray is so much better than Spark. And worse, in a distinctly "is it possible to sue authors for emotional distress at the hands of a paperback?" kind of way. I need Shield NOW, the wait is going to kill me.
Profile Image for Eileen Merriman.
101 reviews11 followers
January 18, 2020
So many twists and turns - a wonderful combination of sci-fi, thriller and romance. For anyone who loved Divergent and The Hunger Games. And the prose is right up there. 5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Fleur Ferris .
Author 10 books328 followers
March 18, 2017
Wow! I was left shell-shocked and breathless after reading this book. I loved Spark and expected Stray to be just as good, but WOW! Craw out did herself.

This series, this book, is outstanding. It has everything - romance, mystery, supernatural, excitement, twists and turns
and thrills. There's nothing I don't like. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Kate.
789 reviews32 followers
September 4, 2015
See my blog for guest post with author Rachael Craw!

After anticipating the release of Stray for so long I was anxious to see if it would meet my rather high expectations.

Truth is it doesn’t meet them – it exceeds them in every way possible.

Spark ended with Evie starting a relationship with Jamie, neutralizing the threat against Kitty and generally being a bit of a bad-arse. So where does a story with such a strong beginning go from here?

To a fancy dress party of course!

Craw does a fantastic job at combining the futuristic DNA altered superhuman storyline with the real life Evie tries to maintain. For all her specialness, she is still a teenage girl with many of the same pressures and issues teens face. There’s family drama (although Evie’s family is anything but traditional), boyfriend problems and balancing her new life as a super protector with being a good friend.

And there’s the fast paced action and adventure I loved from the first novel. Stray will keep you guessing just what will happen right up until the end.

One of the things I like most about Stray (and this series in general) is the action and reactions. Evie is not someone who will just sit around when someone she cares about is in trouble. She will do what she thinks is necessary even if it’s dangerous and will land her in trouble. And what’s what I like – there are consequences. Some books you read and it seems that as long as the hero/heroine saves the day then all is forgotten. Not the case for Evie. Her actions all have a cost. After the events in Spark, Affinity are on the scene and Evie is forced to face up to her actions. I loved reading about the somewhat shady Affinity and how their organization works.

Evie’s relationships evolve in Stray. She’s still coming to terms with the secret about her mother and how to deal with her identity. Other members of her family cause Evie much emotional turmoil and it is interesting to see just how Evie deals with it all. I love her interactions with Kitty. Despite everything that has changed in Evie’s life I like that Kitty remains strong as her BFF and encourages Evie to maintain a somewhat typical teenage existence.

And then there’s Jamie. Okay, so I still have issues with his name but I have to admit I adore the boy. He’s a great match for Evie and not just because of their connection on a purely genetic level. Their relationship was a pleasure to read and not just because of the romance. There is romance but there’s also so much more. Their relationship hasn’t changed them as people nor has it fixed all which is wrong with their world. The fact that everything isn’t just sunshine and rainbows because they kissed adds to the realism in this book.

I liked Spark but I absolutely LOVED Stray. This is a series which keeps getting better with each instalment. The characters evolve and the plot gets more exciting with each chapter. After reading this book I can say I’m definitely a lifelong Rachael Craw fan and I can’t wait for the release of Shield (Spark #3).

Thanks to Walker Books for the review copy.
59 reviews2 followers
April 18, 2016
I can't even!
I absolutely love this series. Rachael Craw is a fantastic, original and creative writer; and it shows in her writing. In both Stray and Spark, I've felt a real connection to the characters -not the genetically modified parts of course!
You get such a vivid image of the characters' personalities and inner thoughts, you feel like you really know them because there is so much character and relationship development. It's subtle but you can see the changes in the characters over time. Evie started as a girl in Spark who felt like a freak. She has grown into herself much more, and her strength and determination really shines through in Stray.
Apart from being in love with the characters, I love the whole idea of the Affinity Project. Reading about the organisation and all the terms and rules that we have to learn along with Evie, its a mystery how all of it was created. The whole project is so detailed and explained well in the books, I can only wonder how long it took to think it all up, and the immense amount of talent it takes to create a whole world never seen before, and prevent plot holes.

I find it so amazing how the words written by an author can provoke such strong emotions in a reader. I feel such a hatred towards the Executives of Affinity, and a great sense of injustice about the treatment of the 'Assets'.
I really disliked Davis, but with one paragraph Rachael had me loving him and wishing for more of his story.
When it comes to Spark and Stray, in the space of an hour I can feel awed, happy, overloaded with the cuteness of Jamie and Evie, defensive, angry, hateful,vengeful and destroyed.
Like I said, it takes great talent for an author to create characters that make an impact on your life. And the talent shows in the original world of the series, the amazing characters who somehow manage to be relatable but at the same time seem completely superhuman; and in the intense emotions in readers.
The writing is so believable and you get so caught up in the story that without realising it you're laughing out loud or smiling like a weirdo, or sobbing your eyes out in need of a tissue!

I would seriously recommend this book to any teen who loves well written books and something a little out of the ordinary. But I would also caution at some of the dark themes and scenes in the book; if you can't handle that or intense sadness, then make sure you have some tissues in hand and some sunshine BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO READ IT ANYWAY!!
Profile Image for Léá.
207 reviews37 followers
August 24, 2016
Reread 24/08/2016; still made of awesomeness sprinkled with glitter and served with a side of chocolate cake. Craw is a cinnamon roll of brilliance and I bow down to her genius.

Wow. Rachael Craw has done it again. This series is epic and all sorts of awesomeness and exactly the kind of thing that I adore. If you like science fiction, awesome kick-ass characters, genetically engineered super-soldiers, covert government agencies, plenty of high octane action and a dash of swoon-worthy romance then you so need to check this series out!

Stray is the second book in this series, essentially picking up where Spark left off, and let me tell you, this one really hits the ground running. It has all of the elements I loved about Spark but then it goes and raises the bar. In this book we delve further into Evie’s past and learn more about the ruthless covert organisation known as The Affinity Project that is seeking to take away her freedom and control her, turning her into a military asset for their manipulation. We learn more about what sets her apart, even in a world of genetically engineered super-humans, and follow her on a desperate journey to protect those she loves from the callus clutches of an organisation that will shoot first ask questions later. This book is powerful and compelling and so easy to read (I devoured it in less than 24 hours because I literally could not put it down… and I couldn’t believe that I was finished already because I just wanted more more more). The characters and relationships remain some of my favourite aspects to this series, but the world building and plot are so intriguing and unique, full of twists and turns to keep you on your toes, that you can’t help but continue turning the page. Craw does a fantastic job of building on from the first book, creating something of greater scope and enormity within the context of the wider series arc, but still manages to write a really solid story arc with an emotional, explosive and satisfying climax (why oh dear lord why... *sobs*). I also really enjoyed the emotional undercurrent throughout this story, it generates a powerful sense of tension, drawing you into the world and the characters’ lives, commanding attention with every single word.

This series really is going from strength to strength and I so cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. Do yourself a favour and give it a go, if you're anything like me you will be wondering why you didn't pick these books up for so long.
Profile Image for Aimee✨.
599 reviews45 followers
October 10, 2015
I was sent a copy of Stray by Walker Books Australia. I really, really liked Spark but Stray was so freaking good! I couldn't put it down. When I saw how fast I was getting through it I wanted to slow down because the next book, Shield, isn't out till next year but I just couldn't stop.

The Affinity Project seem a bit much, there are some really abusive things they do to keep
their "assets" in line. But at the same time I can see why an orginisation is needed to help the kinds whose mutated DNA has them getting stronger and not knowing why. But the Affinity Project has an evil side to it.

Evie made some tough choices in Stray, choices she'll carry with her. I think things may have had a different ending if Miriam had been honest with Evie. But because of the controlling Affinity Project she couldn't.

There's one point, near the end of the book, where I thought Evie was going to get the outcome she had fought so hard for, after I'd already thought it was the end and had a bit of a cry (I'm trying so hard not to spoil anything so if I'm not making sense, I'm sorry) and then the next page all hell broke loose and I was so confused and angry.

The way the Proxy was raised was horrible. Sacrificing a child so your orginisation can have power over others, especially in ReProg (that name reminded me of what happened to Sydney in Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead) is so twisted and evil. So it's no wonder the Proxy was twisted too. The things she did were disgusting (Jamie) and horrible. I don't know if what she told Evie was true but I can see Affinity doing it.

I had my suspicions about Miriam and Ethan. It was an interesting twist to find out what happens when Synergists (fingers crossed I spelt that right) have children. I'm excited to see what that means for Evie in Shield and what Affinity plan on doing with Evie and Jamie.

I tried to explain what Spark and Stray were about to a librarian at my local library and I don't think I did the books justice. They're not like anything I've read before and I love that. I read a lot of the same types of books so to have been recommended and sent these books to review was pretty great. I'm hoping the library will get copies of the books but they are pretty useless, buying sequels and not the first books...

I loved Stray and cannot wait to get my hands on Shield when it comes out next year. I can't recommend these books enough, please give them a chance and read them :)
Profile Image for Tassha Cocks.
35 reviews16 followers
August 15, 2016
Sweet baby jesus! The biggest regret held was putting down this book because my god!!! I can't fully grasp how a book can be this amazing!! Thank you so much Rachael for somehow making this series more amazing than it already is!!!
Profile Image for Ella.
568 reviews108 followers
October 18, 2015
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