Spark by Sarah Beth Durst
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Summary from NetGalley:
When a shy girl and her dragon-like companion discover their country’s idyllic weather comes at a steep—and secret—cost, they recruit fellow students to defy authority and attempt to spread the truth.
Storm beasts and their guardians create perfect weather every day, and Mina longs for a storm beast of her own. But when the gentle girl bonds with a lightning beast—a creature of fire and chaos—everyone’s certain it’s a mistake. Everyone but Mina and the beast himself, Pixit. Quickly enrolled in lightning school, Mina struggles to master a guardian’s skills, and she discovers that her country’s weather comes at a devastating cost—a cost powerful people wish to hide. Mina’s never been the type to speak out, but someone has to tell the truth, and, with Pixit’s help, she resolves to find a way to be heard.
ARC provided by Clarion Books via NetGalley for an honest review.
This is very much a story of finding your own way in the world, when everyone has expectations of you that are less than your own.
Mina is a very shy and quiet child, and her family is shocked and dismayed when her egg hatches a lightning beast. They fear that she will not be able to handle Pixit or the demands of bonding with such a creature. But they do let her go to be trained, even though they think she will fail. Mina, of course proves them wrong. I was afraid that Mina would move away from her shy and quiet self in the story, but she never does. She stays true to herself, even while becoming stronger and a leader. Her relationship with Pixit was wonderful as well, both of them giving encouragement when needed, and always being there for each other.
Jyx was an interesting character, and I liked her beast Chauda, who was a bit cynical. Jyx is the opposite of Mina, loud and outgoing and always taking risks. Although the two become friends, it isn’t always shown how their friendship develops. Jyx is just sort of there when Mina needs her. This lack of development was one of the minor things that I didn’t like in the story. I just wanted a bit more between them to develop.
The overall plot of the story was interesting, although it was a bit slow at times. The world building is solid. I loved the idea of these beasts controlling the weather and making everything better in Mina’s world. But the idea that what they did in their little corner of the world affected others, was well done. I also really liked that Mina being quiet and shy ended up being an asset, because no thought it would be her leading the cause, she didn’t get caught.
This is a unique book with a the shy quiet heroine that you didn’t know could exist in fantasy. I think kids will appreciate the quiet, yet powerful way that Mina takes control of her life and changes the world in the process.