Skylark by Meagan Spooner
Release Date: August 1, 2012
Publisher: Lerner Publishing; 344 pages
Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.
Lark did not expect to become the City's power supply.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she's ever known...or face a fate more unimaginable than death.
I was so excited when I got this book and met Meagan at BEA. She’s a local author (located in DC), the premise of Skylark sounded intriguing, to put it mildly, plus, LOOK AT THAT COVER! So simple yet so downright beautiful.
Skylark didn’t disappoint. There was so much detail in the post-apocalyptic world that I literally felt like I was right there with Lark living her adventure alongside her, rather than reading her journey. That is what every reader wants to feel; to truly feel like they’re apart of this story, experiencing it (though, completely safe unlike the heroine). I haven’t felt this way in such a long time that it’s truly refreshing.
Her characters were amazing and not like every other character I read in YA books. Lark Ainsley, our heroine, was pretty much the city’s reject and one of the oldest children who haven’t been harvested for the adult, working world. Most children in this world get harvested by the age of 12, where they’re spread throughout the city, assigned different jobs that help keep the city and its limited citizens functioning. It’s almost as if Lark is the reject of the city and it’s got to be quite frustrating and embarrassing to be that old and yet still be considered a child.
Her first love interest is an institute official named Kris (who I absolutely adore) whose handsome, clean cut, just about everything you’d want in a guy and clearly, an institute born child. (Though, clearly no longer a child) Though he’s brought up to be this institute prodigy there is just something about him, from the second Lark lays eyes on him, which screams he’s different from the rest. The true question you’ll be asking yourself is just how different is he from the rest of the ‘government’.
Once she leaves the city’s wall and is on her own in the outside world, she meets this mess of a boy. He’s clearly been living out in the woods on his own because everything about him is messy. But this boy, whose name is Oren, ends up being more helpful than even Lark was expecting and joins her for her journey to the Iron Wood. Oren is young, good looking (once all the dirt and grime are removed, of course), highly intelligent for being on his own, strong and knowledgeable on how to survive out in the wilderness.
You may be wondering why she is looking for this place called Iron Wood? She is what the city calls a Renewable, a person who can regenerate their magic on their own. These ‘Renewables’ were believed to have died off before the war that destroyed just about everything. A Renewable who was being used in such horrible ways told her to find this place, which is full of others just like them, and she would be safe. It might not make a whole lot of sense but I can’t explain too much without giving away a lot of the story. Trust me, read this and find out exactly how interesting this all is.
One of my favorite characters from this story actually is the mechanical pixie that followed Lark on her journey, Nix. He’s an interesting character and sure brought plenty of entertainment for the reader, especially before we meet Oren. Cause let’s be honest, a journey of just Lark, by herself, in the wilderness could’ve gotten rather boring. Sure, he’s not going to be much help if you need protection but he came to be quite useful and helpful along the way.
Like every book, whether it’s YA, MG or Adult, there are characters who you instantly fall in love with, characters you wish things upon them that you wouldn’t even wish for your worst enemy and, of course, there’s those characters whom you love to hate…or is it hate to love? ;) Also, characters you aren’t sure if you can trust or not…
The only negative thing I found from this book is I did think the beginning was a tad slow. Not bad enough where I wanted to drop my book and run in the opposite direction but enough that I didn’t stay up until 5:30 am (like I did for the last half of the book).
Would I recommend Skylark? Are you kidding me? I’ve already recommended it more times than I can count and I feel bad for some of the people I’ve told because it’s not out yet. But it’s that good that I couldn’t even wait for it to be released to be talking people’s ears off about it! YA fans of all types should and probably will enjoy this book.
Oh, and did I mention the fact that there is a loop thrown at you toward the end of the book...one that you kick yourself for not seeing beforehand but also being so emotional over finding out this tidbit? No...? Well, it's brilliant. Never have I been so blindsided before while reading a story. Never. So kudos to you, Meagan Spooner, kudos for sure!
Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She's traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there's a bit of every trip in every story she writes.
She currently lives and writes in Northern Virginia, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there's no telling how long she'll stay there.
In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.
She is the author of SKYLARK, coming out August 1 from Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Books. She is also the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, forthcoming from Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2013.
From the time you started writing Skylark to the time you got a publishing deal, how much time had passed and was it frustrating at all?
I started writing SKYLARK in mid-March of 2010, and finished it a few months later at the end of June. I spent a while revising and polishing, and working on my query letter. I eventually sent queries out in November 2010, and I signed with my agent at the end of the year. We went on submission a little while after that, and SKYLARK first sold (to an overseas market, actually) in April. So it was about a year from the time I got the idea for the book to the time it first sold. The first US deal was a few weeks after that.
This is actually really fast, all things considered, and SKYLARK was my first novel. That said... yes, there have been moments of frustration. A lot of what happens in publishing you can't really talk about publicly, but there are always things that don't turn out like you'd expect. Just because a writer seems to have an "easy" journey on the outside doesn't mean there hasn't been crazy stuff going on behind the scenes!
Was Skylark the original title? If not, what was it? (If you’re allowed to share) Also, did you have a have say in naming the book and the cover design, as well?
The book's original title was THE IRON WOOD. It was a working title, named after the rumored haven Lark is trying to find once she escapes her city. But when it came time to query, I couldn't find anything that worked better for me, so I just left the working title as is. It wasn't until after the book sold that my editor suggested we change the title. "Iron" is often code for "faeries" in YA lit, and there are no fairies in my book! (There are pixies, but they're not the kind of pixie you're thinking of.) We drew up a list of at least fifty titles, and couldn't find one that worked, until suddenly my editor and I both independently arrived at SKYLARK, at the same exact time. Fate! I didn't have much say in the cover--but that was only because I adored it from the very beginning draft that I saw. If I had had a problem with it, I would have felt entirely comfortable raising my issues--my publisher's been awesome about listening to my input, it's one of the things I love about them. But lucky for everyone involved, that wasn't necessary, since I loved the cover! Sammy Yuen designed it, and I've had a crush on his covers for a loooong time.
What is one thing that terrifies you the most with your first book being published, especially with publication date right around the corner?
Seriously? Um, everything terrifies me! I think you could ask any first-time author that question and they'd all rattle off a list of a dozen things, each more irrational than the last. No one will buy my book. I won't earn out my advance. No publishers will want to buy my books in the future. Bookstores won't stock my book. Important reviewers will pan it. Etc. etc. Most of the fears you get are based on absolutely nothing, but you get them anyway. Luckily, I think most writers are so busy in the months leading up to publication that they don't really have time to let their fears rule them.
Which character are you most like in Skylark and what makes you similar to them?
Strangely, I don't think I'm like any of the characters in SKYLARK. I suppose if I had to pick one, I'd say Lark, but I think I feel that way simply because she's a YA heroine and we call kind of imagine ourselves in the place of the heroine now and then. But Lark is a lot braver than I am, and tougher. She makes decisions in SKYLARK that I'm pretty sure would've crippled me, if I were in her place. I don't know that I would've had the guts to even leave the city in the first place!
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer and what made you realize this?
I've always wanted to be a writer. At least since I was four or five. I actually remember the moment I decided it--I had just finished reading Maurice Sendak's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and I was daydreaming and looking at the pictures and when I flipped to the cover, I read his name there. And for the first time it occurred to me that someone had actually written that book. When you're a kid, you don't really think about where things come from. But it hit me that somewhere was a person who'd come up with the story and put it all down and now I was living it myself. I'd always had stories in my head--playing make believe was my favorite game--and the idea of transporting other people into those stories just by writing them down on paper was... well, it was magic. It was around age 9 that I discovered I actually loved the act of WRITING, not just storytelling--because there is a difference. After that I wanted to be a writer pretty much constantly, and when I was 23, and had been working a desk job for a couple of years, I decided that I actually wanted to make it a career, and started working toward that.
Bonus Question: What are some great YA novels that you’ve recently read that you would recommend to your readers?
GRACELING, FIRE, and BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore. You will cry. You will SOB. But in that awesome way that only good books can do.
Thank you SOOOO much to Meagan for not only allowing us to be a part of her blog tour, but also taking the time out to answer a few questions. (Also, for being so amazing!)
I also wanted to let you know of an awesome contest that she has got going on over at her blog! Basically, everyone who enters will win something but if you're lucky, you could win a lot of cool soemthings! There's no reason NOT to enter this contest. Did I mention is open internatioanlly? Nooooo?! Well, there you go! It's open to everyone, everywhere!
The Sky's the Limit Contest!
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