Thursday, 8 October 2015

Book Review: Stray (Spark #2) by Rachael Craw

Goodreads Description: 

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.

Title: Stray (Spark #1)
Author: Rachael Craw
Genre:YA, Contemporary, Science Fiction, Romance
Format: Paperback
Pages: 425 pages
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Source: Purchased from Dymocks Bookshop

One of my most anticipated books of 2015 and this lived up to it! 2016 you better come quick!

WARINING: Spoilers for Book 1 Spark (review here) as I'm gonna reference some events that happened in the previous book. If you have yet to read Spark, you're missing out on a hella lotta epicness (AND SWOON WORTHY SHIRTLESS JAMIE #justsaying) 

The Plot/ Writing

Stray follows Evie months after the event of Spark as she juggles life of trying to be a normal teen while balancing the fact and consequences of her being a genetic engineered super human. We get to know more of the Affinity Project, the organization that was set up and created the modified DNA where they train the Shields, protect the Sparks and kill the Strays. 

I love Spark and Stray exceeded my expectations! If it was not for the fact I had a lot of uni work and exams I will have locked myself in my room and binge read Stray so that I can enjoy the intense and fast pace plot in one go. I needed to look at the Glossary (which i highly recommend reading if the theory building confuses you) to refresh myself in between reads. I recommend reading this with as little interruption as possible to fully appreciate the plot and what's going on.

 I swear this book is not good for my lungs and heart...
The plot was FREAKING INTENSE, DARK, TWISTED AND HECK FLIPPING DISTURBING! While there were some stuff that I kinda foreshadow from hints still I love how its not sugar coated as we see how dark and dangerous the situation has gotten for Evie and her friends not to mention every time I think they are safe THEY ARE NOT. Along with some very sad moments *wave fist* there are some hilarious and awkward moments along with sweet heartwarming moments. Also a badass book needs a great action sequence that pumps me with adrenaline and keep me at the edge! I always enjoy reading the combat sequence which are easy to visualize.

The best thing about the writing are the interaction and banter between the characters. Its fun following the characters using those Affinity jargen like its a language of its own. I also love the world building of the Affinity project and just reading what they are capable of doing to to Evie and the gang is scary. Also those who have a hard time getting into sci fi or want to get into the genre but are intimidated with it, I highly recommend reading the Spark series to ease yourself as its more of a contemporary with a sci fi twist.

The Characters/ Relationship

The cast of characters in this book got better as we see the characters and relationships grow along with  being introduced to some newer ones
Yes I fancast Ellen Page as Evie but wish that she was a bit taller
I love Evie even more in this book even though at times I wanted to hit her on the head for being stubborn and frustrating when she did not listening to other people instruction, though she meant well on her action even though the things never comes out as planned. Still I love watching her grow as she is more fiercer and bolder with and without her powers. She's selfless, loyal and protective to the ones that she loves while still managing to be positive yet sarcastic with the situations faced. She has learned to handle her 'powers' but still has a lot to learn (like avoid alcohol, doorknobs and her nerves at all causes) not to mention I love how she owes up to the consequences of her actions even though its a great pain to watch her being guilty for what has happened. Evie's one of the strongest and most badass heroine I've read in YA and I love watching her evolve through the story.

I mentioned in the last book I adore Kitty and I'm so glad to see her playing a bigger role in this book. Its really cool how she address that she is not some damsel in distress and that she is just as badass and capable on handling the situation in her own way like Evie minus the super human powers.

I do love you... when you are not being a frustrating pain in the neck...
As for her twin brother Jamie aka *Mr Swoon* I kinda want to hit him on the head in this book but with a bucket of ice as the dude needs to cool down on the situations. He is beyond borderline an over protective and controlling of a boyfriend and big brother and yes I get that he has good intentions, something must have happen that gives him trust issues on the girls. We didn't see him as much as I expected in this book so I'm hoping in the next book we will get more answers on Jamie and his past.

I have mix feelings about Jamie and Evie relationship. I kinda predicted that they won't go too far in their relationship but I was not expecting for them to break things up *cries!!!*. Still I'm glad that his book focuses more on Evie and her relationship with her twin brother and The Affinity Project instead of the romance. But don't worry as there are some really sweet romance in this book but not as a lot as in Spark.

Speaking of twin bother, we get to know a bit more about Aiden and his situation in this book. I had so much fun watching his relationship with Evie and Kitty and when reading some parts between him and his sis, I can't help but smile at how alike he and Evie are! Yup they are definitely siblings... very stubborn siblings.

Now for my favorite new character The Proxy... this one insanely eff up character! I was initially cheeped out with her situation ( heck I've seen a lot of eff up disturbing stuff in books and video games but this is one of the top most eff up things I've ever read) but what she went through in her life, I don't blame her. She's a character that I had trust issues with yet at times I feel bad for what she went through.

Spoilers on The Proxy and Aiden in Stray:

basically The Proxy the off spring of two Synergists like Evie and Jamie but unlike them she was handed off to the Affinity project since birth and long story short is their property and 'test subject'. I don't blame her for the level of mess up that went through her head as he never had a normal childhood or life but her drowning Felicity and killing herself is one of the most disturbing thing I read in the book. But she does have her reason for some of this madness like her killing Aiden(crying in the corner!!! still not over this!!) and showing Evie that he will suffer and be even worse than a lab rat if he were to survive which is sad as Evie and Aiden finally found each other. Heck I too was rooting for Aiden to survive as I wanted him to be Evie's partner in crime and have a brother sister relationship like Jamie and Kitty. Guess we can't get everything (cry even more). Kinda sad that two of my favorite characters died in this book.

We are introduced to the Affinity Project. This is kinda a common trope in YA where the MC faced with a situation of a very eff up organization. Stray manages to refresh this trope by showing all angles of the dark side of the organization and making you root for Evie and the gang to find a way to get out of their situation and bring down the organization. You can't trust the tyrants of the Affinity Project especially with what they did to Evie, The Proxy and the gang. Heck I love to hate the organization! I'm looking forward to seeing more of the politics side of the Affinity Project and can't wait to see what's in store for them in the last book.

Lastly is Mariam and Ethan who we learn about their relationship in this book. I don't blame them for what they done to protect Evie and Jamie lives as the truth can sometimes be more painful than a gain.


Here's a fun fact... I was hugging this book to pieces (okay I kept it in one piece) when I was done with this epic adventure and how it ended.
Like the last book, had fun reading the epicness in Stray. The ending was well rounded with a slight cliff hanger that keeps you coming back for more. We get to know more about Evie and her family secrets as well as the mess up organization they are associated with. The book ended on a bittersweet note with lots of hope for what's to come in the final installment of the series. I freaking love how this series has progress and can't wait to see how it concludes in the last book Shield.

Also I highly recommend reading the prequel novella Black Room which is available free on iTunes as it will help you understand some of the situation that Evie has to go through in this book as well as we get to know Ethan's character.

Oh what's this?? A top shelve seal of approval?? 

You betcha! This series has a special place on my top shelve for its refreshing take in the Aussie YA and Sci fi genre. Highly recommend Stray if you want an epic action and plot driven story with great character and relationship building as well as a strong sibling relationship with a hint of romance.

Also a quick RowGames recommendation:  

If any of you guys follow my review for Spark or my goodreads/twitter commentary you'll know the one thing I associate the plot of the Spark series is with the plot of the game Beyond Two Souls which is one of my all time favorite game for its storytelling, great and strong female hero (that we are seeing more and more in gaming), amazing acting and its beautiful graphics but is also one of my least game mechanics. Anyways I highly recommend if you like the Spark series and want more sci-fi/paranormal action, check out a lets play of beyond two souls. And yes this was one of the MAIN REASON why I fancast Ellen Page as I pictured her as Evie back in Spark.

Code word: Aiden, mess up organization, KTM 

1 comment:

  1. YIppee, I'm so glad you enjoyed this one Rou! It was definitely a really thrilling and dark read but also really great with the dialogue and the whole "evil corporation". Lovely review!