Spark Rising is a post-apocalyptic Earth, dystopian tale with a few unique elements that made for a great story. Well written, well edited and all around an enjoyable read, the book has many aspects that made me love it. I think this book would be a good read for any fan of science fiction, dystopian, post-apocalyptic or science fiction romance stories, so it has a wide range of appeal. There were only a few, mostly minor, issues that I ran into which kept me, personally, from reaching the coveted 'OMG More!' moment.
In a quick run-down, this story is set in a futuristic south-west America, in which the world has been destroyed by an element called Dust. The Dust, however, is also now a vital part of human existence as the human race tries to rebuild itself in several relocation zones. Controlled by people called Sparks, the Dust is used the way we use fossil fuels today - to create combustion and generate electricity. It the main source of power remaining (I think steam-power was also mentioned), and so the Sparks have become tools to those in control of the city.
I think this is where I ran into my only real issue with the science fiction within the book. The Dust impedes and allows combustion to occur, and it also is responsible for the lack of fossil fuels like oil in the future-America. But, no explanation or mention is given to what happened to non-fossil fuels. Why aren't people using wind, solar, or hydro-electric dams? Also, the Dust is advanced tech from a future Earth. I have a hard time believing we'd still be so reliant on fossil fuels at that time. Is there some sort of electrostatic interference created by the Dust that interferes with wind or solar power? If yes, I missed it in the book.
That aside, the concept of the Dust and the Sparks was interesting. They seemed to have formed a symbiotic relationship in several ways, and it led to the power struggle between those in control of the Sparks, the citizens who needed electricity, and the Sparks themselves who were growing tired of being treated more and more like living tools. Enter Lena - a female spark of rare power / connection to the Dust - , and the Spark Agent sent to capture her, Alex Reyes. This is where the story begins, and it begins with a good bit of character interaction and action, the reader quickly learning what kind of no-nonsense, strong female protag they've found in Lena.
I loved Lena's character. She has a sharp tongue, isn't afraid to get her hands dirty or admit that she enjoys a good romp. She's no shrinking violet and isn't about to put up with any of Agent Reyes' crap. Alex Reyes is a hard-lined, emotionally compartmentalized man, raised in a Spark school and with little experience or understanding about family, love or putting anything ahead of the cause; at least not until Lena's Dust slowly gets under his skin.
There are many other great characters in this book, each with life, agendas and substance. At times, it did feel like the story of Lena and Reyes got a little side-tracked, making this more of a science fiction dystopian with a side of romance possibilities than a full-genre science fiction romance. That was another issue - the romance felt secondary to the story of the Sparks and their struggles, Lena and her struggles, and Reyes and his responsibilities. It all felt rather heavy.
That was my final issue - the weight of the book. I think there was a bit too much introspection, (some of it repetitive) and over-description. It made for a heavy read, which had me skimming a few times because my eyes were craving dialogue and interaction between Lena and Reyes. Despite this issue, though, I couldn't put the darn thing down! I had a couple late nights reading this book because, despite the few hiccups, the story and characters pull you into their world and you want to stay.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher with a request for honest feedback.