Review: Lark Ascending by Meagan Spooner

Thursday, October 9, 2014
Title: Lark Ascending
Author: Meagan Spooner
Genre: fantasy, sci-fi
Series: Skylark #3
Pages: 332
Published: Expected October 7, 2014
Source: Publisher via edelweiss
Rating: 2 out of 5

The thrilling conclusion to The Skylark Trilogy Revolution is brewing in the city within the Wall. The city stands divided, and war is imminent. The rebels need a leader. After months beyond the Wall, Lark returns with Owen by her side, prepared to overthrow the Institute once and for all. But Lark's triumphant homecoming is short-lived when another leader emerges to unite the rebels: Eve, a mysterious Renewable. Lark wonders if Eve's powers will bring them strength or bring humanity's final downfall.

I’d like to start by reminding our readers that my Skylark review was 5 stars and I named it my favorite book of 2012. My Shadowlark review was a bit more reluctant, but it was still a 4 star rating. This review does feature spoilers for previous books in the trilogy.

A popular review of the final Skylark book says,

"Trust me. Everything you've been hoping for, all in one book."

And that is completely true. Provided what you're hoping for is cliched writing, a new, unbeatable bad introduced two and a half books into a trilogy, even more jealousy, endless relationship drama, and interminable conversations about the shadows inside us. If what you were hoping for was wonder, world building, or that showdown between Lark and Gloriette? Perhaps you could go read book one again.

There is actually a scene where the main character and the villain face off on a catwalk over a bunch of evil science equipment. Has the book been optioned, because I feel like this was written just for the dramatic trailer shot of Shailene Woodley hanging from the scaffolding, feet shrouded in factory fog, while the music crescendos. Otherwise, there is zero reason to include something straight out of a 1980s action movie or a Silver Age comic book.

Beyond the cliched set pieces and writing, (two instances of the evil YA sentence, “I exhaled a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding”,) Lark has suddenly become an awful person, actually telling Oren that he can’t explore a cure for his shadow because, “It changes my life too, you know.” The whole subplot about them not being together because of their shadows was pretty much resolved in the last book, and yet it makes up the greatest part of this one.

For a story that’s supposed to be about a rebellion overthrowing the government and healing the magical rift in the land, it spends an awful lot of time: describing the hideous gruel the rebels eat; flashing back to the life of Eve, the renewable; talking, talking, and more talking about whose turn it is to risk their life. (Hint, Lark always thinks it’s Lark’s). I complained that Shadowlark was light on action, compared to Skylark, but this time around, there is 1 (one!) fight scene before the climax. I’m not asking for non-stop war, but I never felt the urgency of the rebellion. I was bored.

Gloriette is in two flashbacks and two current scenes. For a character that’s been built as the ultimate bad and head of the evil organization, that’s just not ok. Her resolution was bullshit. The climax was actually pretty exciting, aside from the set dressing, and I didn’t hate the resolution, though I did think they started building the light/dark equivalency too late in the book.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Lark Ascending. Where the first book had everything I love in YA fantasy, this book had everything I hate. The magic system has become muddled and ill defined. There are now three love triangles. Animal deaths, (sort of.) Jealousy and girl fighting. It’s unfortunate, but even if the series wasn’t over, it would be for me.

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