Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{September 26, 2012}   {ARC Review} Skylark by Meagan Spooner

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky.

Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children’s innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.

Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret—but can she stay alive long enough to find them?


If you’re a fan of steampunk, then I really think you’ll enjoy this novel.  I really liked it, though I found parts of it to be just a bit too long and lagging; I wanted more action throughout the novel, and this book gently speeds up and slows down on a consistent basis.  Now, this isn’t a terrible thing, but I did find myself wanting it to move much faster, to get to the good parts, as it were, because I was honestly scared for Lark and the slowing of pace nearly killed me.  Really.

Lark’s had a fairly crappy life.  She’s 16 and hasn’t been harvested yet, and everyone knows it.  Every. One.  It doesn’t matter that Lark hasn’t even spoken to them, has never seen them before, they all know she’s defective.  Most children are harvested around 11 or 12, and she’s just much too old.  When her name is finally called, however, she finds that being harvested isn’t as grand as it’s made out to be, and as she figures out that a life of pain awaits her, it’s run or forever be a slave.

I loved Lark.  Though she doesn’t make the best decisions all the time (no one does, though, right?), she’s headstrong and determined.  I can’t imagine experiencing everything she did… treated like a dog by her “peers,” trapped and tortured by the Institute, escaping through the Wall only to be pursued by the pixie bots, fighting against magical woods and the shadow people just to survive… and I felt terrible for her.  Like I said, she’s had a crappy life.  But I loved how she took everything in stride and made the best of bad situations, changing from a scared little girl to a triumphant heroine set on doing what is right… I love stories life this (probably because, truth be told, I would run like a scared little girl and try to save myself).

Once outside the Wall, observing the pockets of magic and the destitute that surrounds her, Lark’s travels go back and forth between intense and mundane.  In between fighting off pixies, hiding inside magical bubbles, and running from the Shadow men (cannibals of a monstrous nature), Lark just sort of stumbles around, looking for food, freezing at night, and it isn’t until Oren, a boy caked in mud, really fortifies his appearance within the novel that I found it really picked back up.

Oren is a mystery.  He’s hot and cold, one minute acting like a wild beast and the next, tentative and caring.  I couldn’t figure out who or what he was until Spooner wrote it into the novel, and I was floored… I think perhaps a part of me suspected, but it was such a dormant part that I never figure it out.  I really did enjoy him though, and I am excited to see what happens with him and Lark in the next installment of this novel because Spooner really has piqued my interest with her creation of characters, not to mention her steampunk, magical world.  Three and a half stars.

Learner Publishing Group and Carolrhoda Lab have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on October 1, 2012.


Lynn K. says:

I do love steampunk and good world building so that’s a plus. From your review it seems like Lark will be a heroine I’ll like too and I’m totally joining you in the running away first part LOL. Thanks for the review!

Reblogged this on Paranormal Book Club and commented:
Looks good!!

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