Link to buy Spark Rising (The Progenitor Saga) (Volume 1)
Story Rating: 5 out of 5
I bought the prequel to this book because the premise looked very interesting. I really enjoyed “Ignition Point” and was thrilled to see “Spark Rising” was available for review.
Lena is a female spark and strong women who can produce energy or charge is extremely rare. Sparks appeared after a catastrophe destroyed all the fossil fuels and there was no way to produce the kind of energy mankind needed. Enter the sparks. They can control the “dust” that charges everything, creates energy and allows people to live comfortable lives. As long as the people obey the Councilors.
Strong female sparks, however, are a mystery since there is rumor they “disappear”. So when Lena is a child, she is warned by her father to “fail” the test as a spark but Lena wants to win so she shows her true power. This forces her family to hide her existence until her father is killed and then, Lena leaves the city. She lives on her own and likes it that way. She sells power on the black market and stays out of the council’s reach.
Alejandro (“Alex”) Reyes is a double agent, working for the council to control sparks, and leading a quiet rebellion against the councilors. It becomes his job to bring Lena in, to force her to wear a collar to fuel the people’s need for power. What he really wants is to help her to escape, to join his cause and fight the council’s hold.
Needless to say, everything goes sideways. Lena ends up captured by those loyal to the council. Though she escapes, her trust in Alex is damaged and she isn’t sure she wants to be a part of his rebels who don’t seem all that different from the council that wants to enslave her.
There were so many layers to this book, I’m not sure I can show how compelling the story is without revealing spoilers. First of all, the romance between Alex and Lena is a constant push/pull and just when I thought they were going to be happy together and figure it out, another barrier rises up to separate them. By the end of the book, I’m still not sure how they’re going to be together, though there is hope that they will.
There was a political undertone with the story that was both complicated and in depth. The twists and turns of intrigue were surprising and the power dynamics within this new civilization were often uncomfortable. There were some heavy issues explored and I found them as disturbing as I was supposed to find them. There is no gratuitous violence or overkill in this book. Only the raw, exposed necessity that drives people to do what must be done to achieve the freedom that people deserve.
Though I absolutely loved this book, there was only one drawback for me. Through a series of betrayals, Lena is left with a tremendous amount of pain in the end. I don’t find the peace that I hoped she’d experience. In fact, I had a hard time with at least one political move that Alex implements despite Lena’s hurt. It’s a move I don’t understand, though Alex is convinced Lena will. My thought was that she may understand, but that didn’t change the pain it would cause. Alex is Lena’s defender, her lover and her partner in many ways, he is also perfectly okay with keeping information from her in the end and I didn’t get that at all.
Overall, “Spark Rising” delivered on the promise of “Ignition Point” with action, intrigue, fantastic sex scenes and compelling characters. I was emotionally moved by many of the things that happened in this book and that’s not an easy thing to do. This is a meaty story that gives the reader a full meal rather than a tasty bite. It’s intelligent, thoughtful and well written.
The story contrasted with the other two NA books I read (the only ones I’ve read in the genre) in that it wasn’t a sweet story with a happy ending. I would call the ending a Happy For Now, not entirely convinced that Lena and Alex have come to terms enough to love each other with the kind of passion it takes to keep a good relationship strong.
Reviewed by Jennifer Leeland