Review of “Flight of the Spark” by Evelyn Puerto

Dystopian YA fiction often has something to say about our current society or mankind in general, and this book did a great job of illustrating several different evils. The leaders in this dystopia rule by keeping the populace ignorant and afraid, and it was easy to believe that that could happen, even to this extreme. The common villagers’ infighting and betrayals are a product of this. The abuse is as well. Through young Iskra’s eyes, we see what it would be like to be brainwashed into believing that semi-enslavement is for their own protection. It was incredibly frustrating at times, and often you want to shake Iskra and tell her not to be so stupid, but at the same time you get why she is the way she is.

The plot of the book is pretty straightforward, and suspense builds and builds as you follow Iskra through her discoveries and decisions. There’s a constant sense of impending doom, but there’s also hope as she learns from the Riskers and begins to find confidence in herself. I really liked that we got to see the perspective of the “bad guy” to learn more about what was really going on, and this also worked to build tension as he suspects her of rebellion. The first part of the book drags a little bit but has plenty going on to hold your attention. The last part of the book skips forward as things come together, and it’s in this part that you definitely begin to understand how this is going to be part of a series.

The writing itself is quite descriptive and easy to read. There’s enough description to give you a great picture of what this world and people are like. The dialogue feels natural. The action scenes pull you in.

I’d definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys YA dystopia that doesn’t feel like it’s aimed only at teenagers. Because Iskra is fifteen, some of the situations she gets into might make some readers uncomfortable, but nothing is gratuitous.

See it on Amazon!

Review of “The Legend of the Light Keeper” by Kelly Hall

25081972I really like fictional stories that play off of real legends, and apparently this is one. The whole history of Bragg’s legend was really interesting to me, and I liked the paranormal/ghost story twist that the author used.

In typical YA fashion, we meet the heroine as she’s adapting to a major life change. Then cute boys are throw in.  THEN, the story gets interesting when they start to explore the mysteries of the Light.  I thought the use of the Granny character was really smart, giving the author a way to tell some history stories without drawing away from the present setting.  Then the use of the diary to really flesh out the backstory made me go “Oh!” as a whole new layer was added.  That’s when the book really picked up for me and I got sucked into the mystery of figuring out what the Light was all about and why Lily was connected.

However, there were a few hiccups for me.  The weird love triangle where Lily quickly falls for her soon-to-be step-brother really was a little off-putting for me.  It seems to me that it would’ve worked just fine for them to develop a brother-sister relationship (which could have been quite touching too, if in a different way).  She could’ve just as easily developed feelings for Owen, and THAT turns out to be forbidden too… I don’t know.  I’m usually pretty picky about how any romance is used in a story, but this was a little weird for me.

I also found the mother character very lacking.  She and Tom (the soon-to-be step-father) are barely present in the story, which is something you see all too often in YA, I think.  Her mom seems like kind a flake, even working through her daughter’s 16th birthday when this poor girl clearly needs time with her mom.  So there’s that.

Also, Lily is often put in the place of a girly, weak, helpless damsel.  It happens over and over and over again.  Sometimes she stands up for herself and insists that the boys include her or take her seriously.  Sometimes she realizes she’s acting childish.  But most of the time, she is the girl with the girl jobs; they are the boys who are strong and in charge.

BUT, it is a quick, fun read.  The writing itself is very YA — not too complicated, with simple language used.  There’s certainly enough romance to keep readers of Lily’s age engrossed.   I think adults will also like this if you’re looking for a lot of mystery to figure out, and the action sections are very entertaining.  It’s a very well-edited book, so that helps a lot in feeling like the book is of good, objective quality.

Definitely worth a read if you’re looking for a quick, YA ghost story.

3.5 Stars See it on Amazon!

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