Children's Literature - Bonita HeroldWhile there is no clear line that typical teens cross to become adults in today's culture, Meagan Spooner relates an altogether different scenario. In Lark Ainsley's world, young teens cross that line through the harvest of their magical energy, or Resource. Lark keeps getting passed up and, at sixteen, feels relief and gratitude when her name is finally called. Yet, she shows up for the procedure with some trepidation, questioning what takes place during harvest. Will it hurt? While many assure her it does not, she comes face to face with the reality that it willand that she should run at all costs! Nothing is as she believes, and Lark ends up needing to escape the only world she ever known. Set in a world of magic and danger, the post-apocalyptic novel makes readers feel as if they are by Lark's side as she struggles in a fight for survival at every turn. The fast-paced plot line will appeal to dystopian lovers everywhere. Reviewer: Bonita Herold
VOYA - Bonnie KunzelThis debut novel depicts a dystopian world in which magic is disappearing. It is finally Lark’s turn to be harvested, to have her magic stripped away at the Institute run by an administrator whose falsely-friendly fa?ade soon gives way to true malice. The harvesting process is awful, but even more frightening is the woman hooked up to machines, an energy source for the city, whose telepathic plea is for Lark to flee. When the sixteen-year-old discovers a similar set-up being prepared for her, she escapes through the bubble that surrounds the city into the great unknown. Her telepathic instructions are to follow the birds and find the Iron Wood, where she will encounter others like her. This is easier said than done, especially when mechanical pixies come after her. She manages to destroy all but one, which joins her on her quest. Along the way, she encounters people who hunt in packs like wolves, turned into cannibalistic monsters by their lack of magic. She is saved by Oren, a feral young man who becomes her protector, until they discover his true identity. Once she reaches the Iron Wood, she has more questions than answers. While the people there are a renewable source of energy for the City to drain, her power is different, which she discovers when the City invades. The quest to find a way to save her world will continue in the next installment of this action-packed trilogy, that is also a thought-provoking examination of good and evil, survival, and man’s inhumanity to man. Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus ReviewsAnother debut, another dystopia. For 15 years, Lark Ainsley, like all other children in the city, has longed to have her Resource harvested so she can begin life as a working citizen who contributes to the good of the whole. But Lark isn't like all the other children. When she discovers that the architects plan to use her unique brand of innate magic to power the entire city, she is forced to choose between living life as a glorified battery or venturing beyond the Wall, leaving everything and everyone she has ever known behind, to search the wilds for others of her kind. Hunted for a power she possesses but barely understands, Lark is forced to journey through a treacherous wilderness, with little more than a hope that she will find her way to the safe haven of the Iron Woods. Spooner's debut, the first in a planned trilogy, gets off to a bumpy start. Readers will likely be scratching their heads for a few chapters as they acclimate themselves to the rules and language of this dystopia. However, as the story becomes clear, readers will quickly find themselves invested in Lark's success. Though magic lends an interesting dimension to the narrative, at its heart, this is an intense story of survival and self-discovery. At the end, though, it doesn't stand out from the throng of like dystopias. Only for those who will read nothing else. (Dystopian adventure. 14 & up)
School Library JournalGr 8 Up—In this mildly interesting first book in a dystopian steampunk series, Lark intends to follow tradition and have her Resource (magic) harvested at the Institute when she's 16 and officially becomes an adult. Instead, she's held captive-to be forever linked with glass wires protruding from her veins to a machine to supply the city's power. Her Resource is different. She has the rare ability to renew it. Kris, a sympathetic Institute staff member, helps Lark escape. She crosses the Wall that surrounds their domed city to try to reach others like her living in the Iron Wood-a perilous journey through a wilderness filled with human cannibals. She's also being tracked by a tiny mechanical pixie. With the aid of a mysterious boy named Oren, she succeeds in finding the Iron Wood and is taken in, even though the people sense her magic's not like theirs. Kris shows up claiming that he had to escape because they found out he helped her. Then Lark discovers everything she's been told is a lie. She's not a Renewable and Oren's not who she thought he was. There is little explanation about how this dystopian world came about. The book focuses exclusively on Lark, and the rest of the characters are seriously underdeveloped. Lark's not even that interesting. Fortunately, Oren is. Readers who stick with the story may be rewarded with more fleshed-out characterizations in the next book, but it's doubtful that most teens will have that much patience.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton
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