The promised sequel to Ink, where every deed, action or important moment is marked on a person’s skin; and defines whether a person is remembered or forgotten. This book puts loyalty on the line as well as survive. Spoilers ahead for Spark by Alice Broadway.
After the naming ceremony, Leora is sentenced as a traitor and tasked to infiltrate the blank settlement and spy. The more she learns of her mother and the blanks, the more her loyalty is questioned. If she stops spying, she risks putting her friends and family (and the blanks) in danger. On the brink of war, Leora faces a difficult decision to save those she cares about.
I am torn in two about this book. A part of me is fascinated about this juxtaposition that Broadway presents with those who are marked and those who are blank. Another is disappointed at how lethargic this instalment is. The threat of war that was insinuated right at the end of Ink, made me think that this would be a scramble to man arms. Yet what we were offered was unexpected and strangely disappointed.
“Love’s agony is the pain of ink on a needle buried into skin, the necessary sting, and something beautiful blossoming under its touch.”￼
It was sluggish in places, taking a while for Leora to become a part of the community of blanks. The lessons, her friendship with Gull, learning their rituals as well as about her mother. That said, I feel it skips over parts, such as Joel Flint and how he fell in love with Leora’s mother. How Miranda and Sana’s relationship deteriorated? What happened to Mayor Longsight? What’s Jack Minnow’s role in this? It raises more questions than it answers.
Spark promised this opposition to come to a head. Answers to those questions. A choice to be made. I can appreciate that it takes its time, letting Leora settle with the blanks. Following its predecessors like The Hunger Games, that tease out a budding relationship with ‘The Other’. It makes that decision at the end about choosing who to save more poignant. Predictable. For me it was more scene setting for the entire book and didn’t explain enough for me to want to keep reading.
“I don’t feel as though I’m a blessing, but at least I can choose not to be a curse.”
I think you could cut a lot of this dialogue and end with the same plot of this book? Perhaps that’s what they did originally, leaving us with those questions we have. My only hope is that this promising series can be salvaged by the final book; otherwise we’re just rehashing ground already made by other YA books without a new take.
This book has a lot to answer for!