Jenelle's Reviews > Skylark

Skylark by Meagan Spooner
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So i was thisclose to passing on this book, based on discouraging review. I'm so glad I didn't.

Not that she wasn't right, however-- the first half of the book IS a bit of a confusing, disjointed mess. And yeah, you're really not given a lot of background or world building to help things along. I HATED that about Article 5. But the difference seems to be that in Article 5 all the issues about the past war and the current structure of society were actually very relevant to understanding the story itself as it was unfolding. It felt like being a little kid and not knowing exactly what was going on in an adult conversation: frustrating, excluded.

In Skylark, the situation isn't much better, but I guess what makes it passable is that Lark, like the other citizens, has been kept from the information too. They don't know much about what happened, and they're pretty complacent about it. Without have the big info dump, the reader is just as surprised/confused/whatever as Lark. With so much unknown, you're scared along with her. When done well, this is a concrete way to make a "page-turner." Sometimes....not so much. Skylark kinda falls in between.

What really surprised me though, was that it took me until the last 1/4 of the book to realize how much I was into it. I liked the characters. The twists were awful yet awesome for how easily I let myself fall into them. And above all, by the end, I was looking forward to the next *couple* of books. I see a lot of story yet to be told, not just an agonizing drawing-out of one book into three. Despite the weaknesses, I think there's major potential, and I'm just hoping that FINALLY, a series will deliver.

Update #1- This series did, in fact, turn out remarkably well. It quenched my thirst for a satisfying dystopian story. It's not flawless, and seems to run the gamut of tropes, but it worked for me.

Update #2- I just listened to the audio version of this series and was surprised at the difference. The narrator, who isn't bad at what she does, totally changed the characters and the story with the way she uses tone and intonation. She made Lark sound so whiney and petulant. Rather than being plucky and determined, she comes off as resentful and self-absorbed. It wasn't just Lark, either. The narrator misinterprets, or maybe just inadequately portrays, pretty much everybody. She'll say something in a bland voice, followed by "..he said angrily" for example or play a character noted to be childlike, as a sassy, streetwise diva. This was especially glaring to me because I read the books within the last year, so it was all still fairly fresh. Consequently, the narrator does a severe injustice to the stories, and if I had only heard the audiobooks, I would have been totally turned off. It's so interesting to me how I'll listen to books I've previously read and feel negatively like this, while at other times feel like the audio interpretation enhanced my first reading to make the story that much stronger. Likewise, some books I have been completely unable to get into on my own, but hearing it read made all the difference and I end up loving it. Visa versa as well-- some audiobooks are impossible to comprehend until I finally get the written version in front of me and then it's a magical experience. And because of this kind of thing, I sometimes wonder if the books that are good either way, would have made a different impression on me if I had read then listened or listened then read. Same thing goes for movies. But it's not like you can ever unknow your initial impressions, so it's kind of moot, but it still makes me wonder.
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