Series: Skylark #1
Publication date: August 1st 2012
by Carolrhoda Lab
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?
-A copy was provided by Lerner Publishing Group for review-
Combining magic, science-fiction, and a scary futuristic setting, Skylark is original in its concept that brings forth a dark, twisted world where magic, and monsters, run rampant.
I was wary at first because I wasn’t sure how well the mix of dystopian and magic would mingle, but I found myself quite captivated by it all, though this did not happen right away. At the very start there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the world building: What exactly is this harvesting and why is it done? Where does the magic come from? How does society live before and after the harvesting? These are some of the questions that accumulates after the first few chapters, making it hard to get into initially. Due to this showing rather than telling style of development, it takes a while to discern the world that Lark is trying to escape, as well as the one she’s newly entering, but we do get there eventually. It’s plenty frightening from the very beginning, however, even disturbing at times, which is what kept me immersed in this terrible future our kind now resides in. Being a big fan of darker dystopians, I just knew this was going to be one heck of a ride.
After a little while, once the story gets going, the world building becomes clearer, and my confusion turned into pure excitement at the acknowledgment of all that is lurking in this unforgiving world. I especially enjoyed the addition of magic. Even though I’m not convinced of its foundation, it’s impressive with unimaginable potential for plot developments in following installments – where I also hope to get a further look into the magic’s conception: Where it originates, and how it went about changing our world so drastically. We are told some, but only vaguely so. In addition to this magic that powers machines and sustains cities, we’re propelled into such a dreary world, a vast emptiness that, once full of life, is inhabited by nothing but dangerous beasts – both mechanical and unnatural. This is what Lark has to journey in, following cryptic directions to escape a life of torture.
This grim and threatening world is made extremely vivid by the brilliant descriptions that Meagan uses to lure us into it. It’s hard to not get engrossed in a story where wonderful imagery illustrates everything so clearly; the desolation is sensed, and the wilderness is a character in itself. Walking these wastelands are Lark and Nix – her pixie companion – who make the perfect team to lead this story. Lark is not an especially strong heroine, yet she’s believable. She’s just an average girl in the wild; she gets startled easily and she’s sometimes careless, but she’s not unintelligent. I found her very easy to like as we get to see a lot of her true self throughout her journey, and she does grow quite a bit while learning from her experiences. Oren, however, is the most intriguing character with his mysterious and ominous vibe, making him an instant favorite. The direction that Meagan takes these characters and the plot is both unexpected and unpredictable.
In a wonderful fantasy and science-fiction atmosphere, Skylark brings something unique and satisfying to the dystopian genre. Don’t hesitate to pick this one up!