Author: Rachael Craw
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: 1st July 2014
Rating: 3/5 stars
“You think God has a loophole for people who don’t have a choice?”
Jamie shrugs. “Hope so, otherwise we’re screwed.”
Evie doesn’t have a choice. One day she’s an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she’s a Shield the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer.
The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death.
And then there’s Jamie. Irresistible. Off-limits.
So I was pretty excited for this book – some cool genetics stuff going down, a young adult urban fantasy. It had all the makings of a good story. Unfortunately it just didn’t quite make it there.
Evie, the main character, is annoying. I get that her body is changing due to her crazy superhuman genetic material, but the swooning really got to me. She faints A LOT! And the number of times she marvels over some part of her body got a bit tedious….
The weird genetics thing extends to three kinds of people. There are the Sparks, those who must be protected. There are the Shields, those who must protect. And then there are the Strays, who are trying to kill the Sparks. Each Spark/Stray/Shield works in a trio where they are attuned to each other.
Kitty is the best friend Evie must protect. It is a weird connection, where Evie panics if Kitty isn’t within a certain distance, because she can’t tell if danger is near. Kitty too was a little boring – she fit the criteria for snobby, spoilt, rich girl and Evie almost seemed like her token ‘poor’ friend – the class divide felt very strained in their relationship, particularly when Evie moved in with Kitty’s family.
And then there is Jamie, the boy. He has the same superhuman gene as Evie, so of course he is gorgeously attractive. But he has a girlfriend – how will Evie cope with her feelings towards him while not ‘betraying the sisterhood’. It was very cliche and a little boring. But of course they get over that and make out – without mentioning the girlfriend again….
Miriam is Evie’s aunt and guardian. She is a pretty cool character but we don’t get to see a lot of her because Evie decides to hate her halfway through. It felt really immature and was another grating feature. Miriam is also a Shield and explains all the main points to Evie. It did get a little confusing – we almost needed more context.
I wasn’t particularly intrigued by the story and read some other reviews to pique my interest again. One Goodreads reviewer had all the same problems I did, though she noted they were redeemed by the twist at the end. So I kept reading. And, WARNING, because there will be spoilers here – it wasn’t very good. It was the unoriginal twist that Evie’s mum wasn’t really her mum, but her aunt is. And the Stray Evie has to protect Kitty from turns out to have been her twin brother! I hate when a protagonist’s identity is overthrown because their family turns out to be someone different.
For all that, I still rated this a three because I am interested in how the rest of the series will pan out. I do like the idea of genetic manipulation and was particularly intrigued by the idea that they were passed on through pregnancy vitamins. So I will keep reading – they don’t take me long and for all the problems, the series has a good premise.