Spark by Atthys J. Gage

spark

People are dying downtown, their bodies shriveled away to almost nothing.
The police are mystified, and outrageous rumors are flying: flesh-eating bacteria? an experimental bio-weapon? mutant mosquitos? Fifteen year-old Francy Macmillan listens, but says nothing. It isn’t a comfort knowing that no matter how far-fetched the theories, the truth is even stranger.

For Francy, that truth wasn’t very hard to find. It followed her home from basketball practice one night, a floating bauble of light that speaks inside her mind and shares her thoughts and her feelings. Is it an alien wanderer fallen from some distant star? Or a shard of some divine entity? Whatever it is, it seems to like her. She calls him Spark.

But as their friendship grows, a disturbing fact emerges: Spark knows who is responsible for those strange deaths, and it is up to Francy to try and stop them. Spark leads Francy into a bizarre alternate reality, along with her friends: beautiful Echo with the baby dragon tattoo; moody Brooke with the wicked jaw; and Owen Owens, the boy with the fascinating eyes who may just get around to kissing her one of these days—assuming the world doesn’t end first

I am trying to think of the best genre to which this book belongs. It is part mystery, part romance, part fantasy, part sci-fi, part ode to the game of basketball. It is a smart and tender balm in this era of teenage dystopian novels. I think it defies categories except for this: It is a well-crafted story with appealing characters and a sense of humor and lovely writing. Read this, whether you are ten or 100. And a warning: if you are a bedtime reader and you really need your beauty sleep, it is one of those books that is annoyingly hard to put down (just one more chapter…)!

I found this book totally engrossing–the writing is elegant and evocative and is successful in creating not only interesting characters but also a completely convincing character in “Spark.” This is not an easy feat–to make what is essentially an abstract concept come alive and have personality and motivation. And what separates this book from other YA or science fiction-type of books is the attention to detail and language. Gage’s writing is attentive and specific and poetic, but never in a cloying way. I also appreciated the intelligence of this book in terms of its attention to the laws of thermodynamics, interesting threads of history (e.g., Gnosticism), mathematics, and even basketball. I want my children to read this book because I think they would enjoy it immensely; it has a strong and exciting narrative. I also want them to read it because they will learn about the physical world along the way. Now I just have to wait for the sequel!

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