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Title: The Vanishing Spark of DustMy Review:
Author: Sara Baysinger
Release Date: January 8th 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian
Reading Challenges: Lenoreo's 2018 AtoZ Reading Challenge, Lenoreo's 2018 Netgalley and Edelweiss Challenge, Lenoreo's 2018 New Release Challenge, Lenoreo's COYER Winter Switch 2017/18, Lenoreo's Science Fiction vs Fantasy Bingo 2018
Find it: Amazon ✩ B&N ✩ Google ✩ Kobo ✩ iBooks ✩ Goodreads
When Lark is stolen from Earth to be a slave on the planet Tavdora, she’s determined to find her way back home to her family, no matter the cost. Placed in the household of a notorious slave trader, Lark quickly learns her best assets are her eyes and ears. And if she’s brave enough, her voice.
Kalen is the Tavdorian son of a slave trader and in line to inherit his father’s business. But his growing feelings for Lark, the new house slave who dares to speak of freedom, compel him to reveal his new plan for the slave ships returning to Earth—escape. Together, they just might spark a change that flares across the universe.
I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
4 stars — Wow. Again, why don’t I read more science fiction?? I would have missed out on this gem if I wasn’t determined to stretch myself this year!
OK, before I get going on my review, I just wanted to note that I would call this book mature YA rather than just normal YA. While I have no problems with all sorts of content, I do notice that people get up in arms about this issue, so I figured I would note it. The book does not go into any explicit detail about the actual act, but it’s not completely fade to black. I could see how some might think it skirts the line without crossing, kwim? Consider yourself warned, and hopefully you will still choose to decide for yourself because I highly recommend it! Obligation fulfilled.
I absolutely loved the universe that Ms. Baysinger created…it was heartbreaking and gutwrenching yes, but it was also so beautifully detailed that I felt like I could really imagine Tavdoria and the experiences of both Humans and aliens alike. And the journey that Lark goes on is one with a remarkable amount of growth. But it was still believable growth, even as she changed dramatically from who she was on Earth to who she became on Tavdoria…mostly believable because her circumstances completely changed, and so I feel like she adapted in a realistic way. I was a bit skeptical at first, b/c she was so timid and almost a doormat on Earth, and it seemed like she did a complete about face. But having her freedom taken away, and experiencing the other traumas she did (betrayal, Rika), I can see how it would have a profound effect on her.
I really did empathize with Lark, and I could see a lot myself in her. I LOVED how her empathy was one of her greatest strengths. And it came into play so often! I could vibe with most of what she felt in this story, I could see myself reacting similarly. Though sometimes her boldness made me cringe, b/c I am probably more like the Lark of Earth in that I don’t like attention.
Kalen was a really intriguing hero…I felt so bad for him a lot of the time. He struggled so much with what he felt inside, what his mother taught him, and what he believed was true about Tavdorian society. I thought it was interesting to have our hero be kind of questionable, almost an anti-hero; to be in such a position of power but be so indoctrinated and easily influenced by his family, that even as he felt slavery was wrong, he still believed that nothing he could do would make a difference. I really did love him though, even though he was such a flawed hero. I truly did believe him right from the start about his feelings for Lark, I could feel how genuine he was. As a result I felt for him as he was constantly second guessed and doubted. Honestly, the longer Lark didn’t trust him, the more I wondered if I was wrong all along. And truthfully, I felt like that was drawn out a bit long for me. It’s funny that in the end he wasn’t 100% with the cause, but more just wanted Lark and whatever was safe for her. It was an interesting character arc for him.
I enjoyed their romance too…it added just that little bit extra to the story, and I had lots of instances of tummy butterflies. It was sweet, and poignant, and it made me want to smack them sometimes. 😛 So all good things.
Interesting secondary characters in this one as well, quite an extensive cast in fact. Some that I LOVED, some that I decidedly did NOT. Number one on the love list was definitely the Renegade Tavdorians, they were awesome. I’m going to be a bit vague here, b/c I don’t want to spoil any twists. Obviously loved Neptune as well, though it wasn’t until just slightly before his reveal that I figured things out…good twist there. Speaking of twists, I didn’t see the Starfinder co-pilot coming! I mean, a part of me wondered if there was more to him, but in the end I bought his act along with Lark. Obviously liked both Vermilia and Bram, and didn’t really like Bralia. I will admit I was a bit sad that none of the slaves in the Rydell household really saw Kalen for who he could be, saw his potential in the same way as Lark…they all warned her off him. But then again, they all grew up as slaves. I was NOT a fan of Tariq in the end…for obvious reasons. I did appreciate that some of the bad guys were given a bit of depth…not excuses for their behavior, but at least an understanding of where their behavior came from.
Honestly, the only real problem I had with the story was that it felt a bit drawn out…like it could have been tightened up in a few places. I spend so much time second guessing things and waiting for shoes to drop, that it almost took me out of the story. Perhaps that’s just though.
Now the only question I have left: WILL THERE BE A SEQUEL??? WAS THIS A STANDALONE???? I NEED TO KNOW! I was satisfied with the ending, but I could also see more being added to the story, so I’m curious…mildly…greatly…one of those.