Author: Alice Broadway
⭐️ 2 / 5
Leora is reeling: questioning everything she has ever known about her family and herself. As half-Marked and half-Blank, can she ever wholly belong in either fractured community? For some, she is a pawn and Mayor Longsight wants to use her as a weapon: to infiltrate Featherstone, home of the Blanks, and deliver them to him for obliteration.
Meanwhile Leora longs for answers about her mysterious birth mother, and Featherstone may reveal them. But will she find solace and safety there or a viper’s nest of suspicion and secrets?
After loving Alice Broadway’s debut novel, Ink, I was really looking forward to the second instalment in this series. Spark begins in the aftermath of the shocking events that ended Ink. However, very quickly Leora is sent off to live amongst the blanks as a spy for Mayor Longsight. This allows for some world building and for the reader to see how the beliefs of the blanks differ to those of the marked which we explored in the first book. The integration of the society’s faith system into the plot worked brilliantly and seamlessly throughout Ink however in Spark there was something missing. The plot felt fractured by these stories rather than furthered by them. The tales that are so important to these characters’ beliefs seemed to serve only as a comparison to what we learnt in Ink and became tedious to be quite honest. Unfortunately I also found the plot tedious and predictable. It was slow-going and did almost nothing to advance the plot arc of the series as a whole. I feel I could read straight from book one to book three (when it’s released), skipping Spark completely and it probably wouldn’t take anything from the series. The plot is so far removed from Ink that a lot of the time this book doesn’t even feel like a sequel, which is a real shame.
There isn’t much to say about the characters. Leora, through her internal conflicts, has become whiney and annoying. She makes so many questionable decisions that don’t make her likeable or relatable as she was in book one, but irritating and morally skewed. Almost all of the other characters that we got to know in Ink have been dropped like stones from a great height, although they begin to make random cameos toward the end of the book in an attempt to steer the narrative towards book three. The characters that are introduced in this book don’t have the plot development afforded to the characters of book one which contributed to making this book feel like an almost irrelevant stepping stone towards the closing arc of the series which will come in book three.
I realise I have spent the majority of this short review talking about Ink, but there really is very little substance to be found in Spark which I am really, really disappointed about. After such a strong start to a series it’s a shame that this instalment didn’t deliver as I expected. I will read the last book as I hope it will live up to the standard to book one.
Have you read Ink or Spark yet? What did you think? Have you ever read a sequel, or a standalone, that hasn’t met your expectations?