Waverly, Kieran and Seth are in a race against time – and with the future of humanity hanging in the balance, there’s no room for mistakes…
After a desperate escape from the enemy ship, Waverly has finally made it back to the Empyrean. The memory of home has been keeping her alive for the past months… but home is nothing like she left it. Forced to leave their captive parents behind on the New Horizon, she’s returned only to find that Kieran has become a strict leader and turned the crew against Seth. What happened to the Kieran she thought she knew? Now Waverly’s not sure whom she can trust. And the one person she wants to believe in is darkly brilliant Seth, the ship’s supposed enemy. Waverly knows that the situation will only get worse until they can rescue their parents – but how?
Before they have time to make a plan, an explosion rocks the Empyrean, and Seth and Waverly are targeted as the prime suspects. Can they find the true culprit before Kieran locks them away… or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? Now more than ever, every step could bring them closer to a new beginning – or a sudden end.
About the Author
AMY KATHLEEN RYAN earned an MA in English Literature at the University of Vermont, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School Creative Writing for Children Program in New York City. She is also the author of two widely acclaimed young adult novels, Zen and Xander Undone and Vibes.
Read an Excerpt
Seth Ardvale wasn’t aware of what woke him; he only remembered the fading dream of a rumbling sound that shook his bones. He sat up on his lonely cot in the brig, deep in the bowels of the Empyrean, and rubbed his eyes. He listened for voices. Sometimes he could catch hints about what was going on from the chatter of his guards, but there was no sound at all.
This isolation was part of his punishment, along with the lights being kept on twenty-four hours a day. Seth had come to accept that it might be a very long time before he was out of the brig. If Kieran Alden stayed Captain of the Empyrean, Seth might never get out. He supposed he deserved imprisonment, not just for the failed mutiny he’d staged against Kieran. He deserved to be here because of who he was. “I’m my father’s son,” he said aloud.
The sound of his own voice startled him. He hated that he’d begun talking to himself, but that was how to survive solitary confinement. He had long, internal conversations, and he always imagined talking to the same person: Waverly Marshall. He would close his eyes and see her on the other side of the bars to his cell, sitting on the floor, her hands wrapped around an ankle, chin leaning on her knee. The conversation always picked up where they’d left off a month before, after he’d asked her to get him out of the brig. She’d only looked at him, a haunting hesitation in her deep brown eyes, the rest of her lovely features smooth and expressionless. He knew her well enough to see she didn’t trust him.
“Get me out of here,” he’d said, pleading, a hand on one of the cold bars between them.
She’d looked at him for a long time before finally saying through a long, exhaled breath, “I can’t do that.”
And she’d gotten up and walked away.
Could he blame her? He’d staged a mutiny against her boyfriend, Kieran Alden, had thrown him in the brig, withheld food from him, and, some would say, tried to kill him. It had all made sense to Seth at the time; that’s how crazy he’d been. The time had been crazy. Out of nowhere the New Horizon had attacked the Empyrean, taken all the girls, and caused a containment leak in the reactors that ended up killing Seth’s father. But that didn’t excuse him. All the kids on the Empyrean had lost parents or were separated from them; all of them had terrifying responsibilities to run the ship without a single functional adult on board. Among them, Seth Ardvale had the lone distinction of acting like a sociopath.
“Maybe that’s what I am,” he whispered, then covered his mouth with his hand.
Waverly had been right to walk away.
But he still imagined a million different things he could have said to get her to stay. “You’re right. You shouldn’t risk it,” or, “I understand you can’t betray Kieran,” or simply, “Don’t go.”
Then he’d imagine how she would look as she turned back to him, how he might make her smile or even laugh. How she’d tuck her hair behind her ear just before glancing away again—a small, demure gesture that pierced his heart every time she did it.
But he’d said nothing that day. In his shame he’d let her leave.
If he ever did get out of here, he’d show her he could be a good person. It didn’t matter that he could never have her. He just couldn’t stand the thought of her thinking badly of him. And maybe, just maybe, he could help her, too. Because whatever had happened to her on the New Horizon had pulled her downward, bent her back, hollowed out her eyes. If he could see her again, he’d take nothing from her. He wanted nothing. He just wanted to help—be a friend.
Seth curled himself into a compact ball. He felt heavy and lethargic. The sound that woke him must have been a change in the engines, another increase in the ship’s acceleration in a vain attempt to catch up with the New Horizon, where all the parents were being held hostage. It would never work, Seth knew, but he would never have a say in the decision-making process again. He would always be a pariah.
“Sleep, sleep, I can sleep,” he whispered. It sometimes helped. “I’m just a body, I’m not a mind. I’m a body that needs to sleep.”
Then he heard the whine of the ship’s intercom, and Kieran Alden’s voice: “Evacuate to the central bunker!”
The alarm light in the corridor started twirling in blue and red.
Seth threw aside his bedclothes, ran to the bars of his cell, and yelled down the corridor, “Hey! What’s happening?”
No one answered.
“You can’t leave me in here!” Seth stepped to his right to try and get a look down the corridor between the cells, and tripped over a plate of bread and miso spread that had been left for him. He saw only rows of cold iron bars, and shadows. “You have to let me out!”
In his panic, Seth pulled helplessly on the door of his cell.
It slid open easily.
He stared, dumbfounded, and took a stealthy step outside and looked down the corridor.
There was no one.
Slowly he crept down the passageway, past Max Brent’s cage, which also hung open and was empty. He went to the door that led to the outer corridor and listened, then inched it open.
Down the hall, a booted foot was sticking out of the maintenance closet. Seth approached cautiously, his eyes on the boot, looking for the slightest twitch that would send him running, but the boot didn’t move. He nudged the door open and saw his guard, Harvey Markem, lying on the floor. Seth leaned over him, his ear to unmoving lips, and waited until a warm puff of air escaped them. A clotted mass of blood showed from beneath Harvey’s wiry red hair. Seth took the boy’s walkie-talkie off his belt and pressed the call button. “Hello?”
From the other end he heard only static.
“I need medical assistance down here,” Seth said, and listened.
No response. He looked at the many channels and frequencies, trying to guess which one would reach Central Command. But he didn’t have time to go through them, not if he wanted to escape, so he dropped the walkie-talkie on the floor.
Seth started down the corridor, telling himself Harvey would be all right. When he reached the stairwell door, he turned again and looked at the foot. It hadn’t moved, not a centimeter. What if Harvey was bleeding in his brain? What if he died?
Sighing, Seth went back to the closet, dragged Harvey out, pulled the boy into a sitting position, then draped him over his shoulder in a fireman’s hold. When he stood up, the pressure of Harvey’s weight seemed to squeeze all Seth’s blood into his face, and he broke into an instant sweat. Swaying with the strain, he started down the corridor again. Harvey was big anyway, but with the additional inertia from the Empyrean’s increased speed, he felt as if he were made of wet cement.
Seth’s legs shook, and for a moment he considered taking the elevator up, but he’d be spotted by the security camera immediately, and if the doors opened to a group of people, there would be nowhere to run. So Seth struggled up the stairwell, where there were no cameras, sweat pouring down his face and pooling in the hollow at the base of his ribcage.
“Jesus, Harvey,” he groaned. “What do you eat?”
The stairs were endless, disappearing into a bleak vanishing point above. He had to get Harvey to the central bunker, which was so many flights up Seth didn’t have the energy to count. That’s where everyone would be during an emergency, and it would be the only place Harvey could get any help.
Twice Seth sank to his knees. But if he left Harvey in the stairwell, the boy could die there, so he kept on climbing, every step painful.
When he heard voices, he knew he was close. The last few steps were torture, but Seth threw his weight forward and forced himself up, knees popping, spine bent. He paused to listen at the doorway and heard two girls talking in the hallway outside the central bunker.
“Did they come back?” said a squeaky little voice on the other side of the door. “Are they coming to get us again?”
“If they are, panicking won’t help.” This sounded like that freckle-faced little spitfire, Sarah Hodges.
“What if the hull blew up?” the little girl fretted.
“If the hull blew up, you and I wouldn’t be here,” Sarah said.
Slowly, Seth lowered Harvey to the floor and bent over with his hands on his knees to wait until his breath came back. When he was sure he could run, Seth rapped his knuckles on the door and took off, sprinting down three flights of stairs before he heard Sarah Hodges calling into the stairwell, “Hey! Who’s there! Oh my God, Harvey!”
Seth had covered another five flights when he heard footsteps coming after him. He only needed another four flights and then he’d be home free. “Please, please, please.” Seth repeated the word in his mind, pushing away the pain in his limbs, sending his exhaustion outside of himself so that he could run.
When he finally reached the level he needed, he gripped the door handle. As quietly as he could, he swung the door open and slipped through it, then pelted down the corridor and ducked into the nearest doorway.
Immediately his senses were filled with the fresh, loamy air of the rain forest. God, he’d missed this. The humid air moistened his prison-dry skin as he ran through the coconut groves, past the lemon trees, where he turned into the undergrowth of the Australian species. He dove into a stand of eucalyptus and huddled there, his heart pounding on the wall of his chest, hands wrapped around his ankles, and he listened.
Not a footstep. Not a whisper. He’d escaped! Until he could find out what had gone wrong with the Empyrean, he would wait here.
Now that he was safe, he grasped the strangeness of what had happened. Someone had let him out, but who? Probably whoever had caused the explosions had also let him out; the two events couldn’t be coincidental. Whoever it was had probably caused the explosions as a smoke screen for his release.
His mind turned to Waverly. She’d never hurt Harvey or endanger the ship, but she could have found a way to let Seth and Max out. Then Max could have been the one to hit Harvey over the head and cause the explosions. Would Max do a thing that vicious?
When they’d shared a cell, Seth had listened to Max rave about all the things he’d do to Kieran Alden when he got out of the brig, how he’d lie in wait for him and pummel him, or use a knife, and then he’d go after his pencil-necked little friend Arthur Dietrich, and that traitor Sarek Hassan. The more he heard Max’s sick revenge fantasies, the more Seth wondered why he’d ever chosen the boy as his right-hand man.
Yes, Seth decided, Max was capable of endangering the ship and the mission to serve his own selfish purpose. Someone needed to find that son of a bitch before he did any more damage. But that wasn’t the only reason to find Max.
Whatever Max had done, whatever those sounds had been, Kieran would surely blame Seth for the whole thing and would likely use it as an excuse to keep him in the brig forever. If those booming sounds were bombs, and Seth was blamed, everyone would believe he was a traitor.
And what would Waverly think of him then?
Seth had only one choice: He had to find Max and turn him in. He had to prove to Kieran, Waverly, and everyone else that he had not done this.
And somehow, he had to do it without getting caught.
Copyright © 2012 by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Table of Contents
Part One: Pride,
The Burdens of Leadership,
Galen and Eddie,
Part Two: Power,
The Central Council,
Part Three: Justice,
Part Four: Spark,
The Last Amen,
Cat and Mouse,
Also by Amy Kathleen Ryan,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm admit, I was nearly fulled sold by the first book in this series: Glow. By the time I read it, I was sick of everything trying to say that it's the next Hunger Games. I was ready to move on to something new and original, and I just didn't get that with Glow. Rather than being a dystopian novel, Glow was more of a traditional science fiction story aimed at teens -and it just fell flat to me. So, why did I even pick up Spark in the first place? In part because I had the opportunity to review it, and there were a few small things about the first book that did interest me, so I thought why not?I'm so glad I did.Just about everything that made the first book average had been fixed here. It felt like all the time that went into exposition in the first book wasn't needed here, so author Amy Kathleen Ryan has able to build on her story and characters that really took Spark to the next level. After escaping from a life of being a baby maker, Waverly has been reunited with Kieran. But with all the adult gone, the kids are left to fend for themselves, and Kieran has become a strong leader aboard the Empyrean -and not the Kieran that she once knew. Tensions start to rise between the two, and Waverly finds herself siding with Seth, a perceived enemy whose is accused of sabotaging the ship. It's up to Waverly to find out what's really going on aboard the ship.The writing in Spark just flowed much better than in Glow. The characters had much stronger personalities and are much more multi-faceted here, and the plot was infused with great action that kept me flipping pages. Most importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Kieran and Waverly experienced honest conflict in their relationship that felt realistic -unlike in many teen novels there days that lack real relationship conflict (or any relationship conflict at all). I really felt like Spark dealt with more adult issues than Glow, and is, overall, a stronger novel.If you were on the edge about Glow, try out Spark, it'll surprise you.
A she pads in. Could i join as deputy?
More more more
"PLEASE OH PLEASE MAKE MORE!"
Great so far! A good name would be midnightpaw (if a 'paw) or midnightwillow if a warrior.
Walks in as a lion
I am a voice...crying the wilderness....dies.
This was a fun read. Enjoyable, good pace, and great story.
This is one of the most frustrating books I've read. At the same time, it is so, so good. Kieran, Waverly, and Seth have all been through hell. Their parents are dead or captured by the New Horizon, and they're desperately trying to survive and get their parents back. To complicate matters, they've all changed since the initial attack. Each of them has trust issues. My feelings about the three kept vacillitating, and they kept frustrating me to no end. I feel for all three of them, but it's so hard watching them undermine each other because of their resentment for what the other represents to them. The three could make a strong team if they were to work together; unfortunately, they work divided. Of the three narrators (those mentioned in the above paragraph), I think I liked Seth the most in this book. Though he seemed like a cruel person in Glow, Spark really gives his voice a chance to shine. Waverly is less sympathizable for me. While her headstrong, independent nature makes her a charismatic leader, she's like a bull dozer pushing to get her way, and she has no sense of tact or diplomacy. Though she suggests doing certain things for the sake of democracy in the ship, her behavior is like a power-hungry person. Yes, I know she doesn't trust Kieran, but she seems to have become cruel since her experiences on the New Horizon. Kieran too, I feel is estranged, though the end had me warming up to him. The supporting cast doesn't get much chance to show off because these three are so domineering in their narrations. Still, they're are vibrant and full of life. I especially like Arthur and Tobin, two smart, practical thinkers who don't allow themselves to be especially swayed by a particular leader but trust in their own judgment. None of the characters are perfect, and they all have flaws. Sometimes, many times, they make bad judgments, and I had to remind myself that they're children. On top of that, they've gone through bad times and have major trust issues. They're also very capable of letting their emotions get the better of reason. Best of all is the plot. I was on the edge of my [virtual] seat the whole time, wondering what new plot twist would be thrown next, wondering how the heck these kids would get out of this new situation safely. And who the heck was responsible for messing with the system? The story is highly suspenseful, dark, and different from all the other YA books out there. I like it.
I loved this book but i heard that this series is a trilogy. What is the next book called?
*Includes spoilers if you have not read the first book, Glow* As I finished Glow, the first book in the Sky Chasers trilogy, I really wanted to know what would happen next. Spark started exactly where Glow left off. It's good that I read both of the books in the same month, or else I'd probably be lost when I started Spark. The girls are back on the Empyrean after being kidnapped by the New Horizon, but things have not been the way there were. The main protagonist, Waverly, is disappointed to see how Kieran, her fiancé, has led the ship. Waverly is sure that Kieran has changed, and being the leader of the ship where there are no adults, she feels like he's going to do something bad to the ship. Kieran has never been a favorite of mine. I felt like he wasn't a "guy" because of how sensitive and whiny he sometimes was. Waverly seemed like a stronger character than he was, and I really liked how smart she acted in the book. While the first book had "evil" all over Seth, Spark decided to take a different turn. It was entertaining to see how Seth acted in this book. Seth seemed like a totally different character, which seemed hard to find believable at first. He was totally phsyco crazy evil in the first book, I never expected him to turn out to be the good guy. It had a nice twist to it, so it was fun to read. Unlike Glow, Spark was definitely full of action throughout all the book. I don't think there was ever a "boring" part in the book, but let's say that some were more interesting than others. Overall I was glad that Spark was a better read than Glow! Oh, and did I mention how much Amy Kathleen Ryan loves cliffhangers? Because she killed me with them in the first book, and now she killed me again in the second book. I cannot wait to get my hands on the third, and final book in the Sky Chasers trilogy! I really recommend this trilogy to all those young adult dystopian fans!
Parents and children remain separated in the beginning of Spark. Waverly is loathed for her decision to save the children at the expense of leaving the parents behind. She endures bullying throughout the story. The bullying is taken to the extreme; if it were me, I'd be done with the lot of them, but that isn't Waverly. Relationships are shifting in this novel. Waverly literally wavers between Seth and Kieran. Seth does not think Kieran is behaving normally and Kieran remains eerily distrustful of almost everyone. The plot remains similar to the first book. At the end of the day, everyone wants to get their parents back and Waverly wants to figure out the mystery behind Kieran's odd behavior as well as Anne Mather's promise of peace. The characters have changed a lot in this novel. Waverly is indecisive and very quiet, she doesn't seem as strong as she was in the first novel. Anne is as deceptive as ever, impossible to trust and the true evil villain. Ironically, Seth emerges as a leader. He has a quiet strength about him and seems to have matured. Kieran has regressed. He and Waverly do not see eye to eye and there is tension between them. The other characters are great supporting characters, but not as memorable. Overall, this novel was as good as the first. There were a few things I could have done without. Waverly's character wasn't strong, Kieran annoyed me more than a few times, and it always felt like there should be more action than there actually was. There were good points as well. I loved reading the differing points of views, Seth's stronger character, and the cliffhanger ending. This book is recommended to young adult/teen characters.