|Author: Meagan Spooner|
|Genre: Science Fiction|
|Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab|
|Elements: Dystopian, post-apocalyptic world|
|Series: Book 2 in the Skylark series|
If I had to choose a number to describe Shadowlark, it'd be '180.' As in 180 turn.
But Lethe is a city cowering in fear of its founder, the mysterious Prometheus, and of his private police force. To get the truth about what happened to Basil, Lark has no choice but to face Prometheus.
Facing her fears has become second nature to Lark. Facing the truth is another matter.
Lark never asked to be anyone's savior. She certainly never wanted to be anyone's weapon. She might not have a choice.
And if I had to choose one word? Claustropobia.
Let's recount what we had in Skylark--a naive girl venturing outdoors for the first time, open air, nature, and renewable energy. Spooner took all of that into account and spun it around.
The effectiveness of the various settings and descriptions in Shadowlark were in such contrast to the open air setting in Skylark such that I actually felt claustrophobic. Take one of the first few scenes for example--it's set in the middle of a maze of buildings, skyscrapers really.
When I read Skylark, I was used to the constant presence of nature such that my mind filled in background noise from the rustling of trees, a nearby stream, the smell of dew in the morning. Shadowlark erased all of that away, leaving the vaguely threatening ambiance reminiscent of I Am Legend.
It got worse when we moved to the main setting--the underground city. I could smell the damp earth, smell the warm stench of thousands of bodies in that spiralling enclosed space. That's the upside. The downside is that I found the scenes within that setting to be somewhat draggy; after further analysis, I found that it's actually because I couldn't stop flipping the pages trying to further and further away from being underground.
Again, effective descriptions further cementing me within the underground city.
Tone-wise, Shadowlark feels much more relaxed now that Lark has a focused purpose. She knows herself, and she knows the wider intricacies of her new world. No longer a naive, sheltered girl, the weeks alone in the wilderness have sharpened her instincts. She's now able to navigate her way in unfamiliar social settings and unforeseen circumstances, which is pretty much always when it comes to the Skylark series, as I've come to expect.
The romance in the Skylark series has always been a quiet affair. It's a subtle, heart-wrenching build to the intense conclusion. The bond that Lark and Oren has is not flashy. Rooted in survival, their love is less about showing others what they have, and more about proving to each other that they are continually growing to be the best that they can be, and at the same time, each other's best asset.
Surrounding them is a whole new cast of characters, except for Nix and Tansy. While I didn't immediately place Tansy's part, Nix is pretty much unforgettable, providing some comic relief. Just like Google is my friend, Nix is Lark's friend.
The seeds of discord that were planted in Skylark grew to its full strength, but surprisingly, it's when the situation takes an unexpected turn that we see the strength of the storyline. The never-ending of air of distrust is only enhanced now that the stakes are much higher, with a much fuller and satisfying conclusion.
Nothing like death threats for fast and effective team bonding ey?