Review: Shield (Spark #3) by Rachael Craw

Release Date: September 1st 2016
Published By: Walker Books Australia
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Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: “This is the Affinity Project - where freewill is turned to ash.”
Evie is out of options. She must comply with the Affinity Project – obey their rules, play their deadly games, give up Jamie. And her losses keep growing…

When she decides to help a small group of Shields trying to affect change, Evie finds herself in the firing line. Counsellor Knox is intent on revealing her secrets and shackling her to the Affinity Project for life. To protect her family, Evie must betray those closest to her.

The odds of success – let alone survival – are slim.

The final thrilling conclusion to the Spark series.

Review: This review contains does not really contain spoilers for previous books in the series but to read my reviews on those books, you can find them here and here.

The finale of this amazingly unique series was certainly one of my most anticipated of 2016 – for me this is a series of shallowness and depth – and I was dying to delve into both!

Let me start by explaining the shallowness. I am happy to admit that I am rather superficial when it comes to this series, and the fault lies in equal parts to the publisher, the author and me. The first of the shallowness is the cover – OMG! This series has some of the most beautiful in todays YA market. The colours, the drama, the spine tree – just – WOW!!!! I will never stop loving these covers, and I am happy to admit that. And while the publisher is to blame for the cover shallowness/love, the next I can’t decide if the fault lays with Rachael or myself – but I am going with Rach ;) It all boils down to one word – Ethan. I adore Ethan! And Rachael is to blame for that (obviously) but I will admit that it may have something to do with the fact that there was finally an age appropriate character for me to drool over – it’s hard being an “older” person who loves YA… it gets rather icky to have a book boyfriend who is so much younger than you really are. So, I will always be in Rachael’s debt for Ethan (but there will be more about that later).

So with all my shallowness and superficialness out of the way, let’s focus on the depth! And there is so much of it in this series!!! I have to say, this series just keeps getting better and better. I have always enjoyed the writing in this series, but by this final book, Rachael has certainly cemented her style and storytelling abilities. Naturally science still plays a part in this world, but it is flawlessly written into the storyline without over-riding the real story, the characters are true to themselves even in the most strenuous of circumstances, and the arc is flawlessly completed.

Spark and Stray were certainly a ride, with lots of forbidden feelings, revelations, secrets, deaths and shocks - and now in Shield Evie has to make a choice; submit to Affinity and give up all she loves and her freewill, or to fight the system that wants to take it all from her.

She must choose between becoming Affinity, or taking down Affinity. Take a guess which one she chooses?

Evie, although flawed, has found herself and her strength. I am not going to lie, at times she frustrated me, but she remained true to herself and her beliefs, and god-damn I respect her for that. She continues to go through a lot, but she doesn’t (generally) whinge and whine about her situation - she accepts what is and if she doesn’t like it, she gets out there and does something about it. She is bad-ass, fierce and full of sass - don’t get me wrong, she isn’t fearless, and that makes her that much more likeable.

The strength of this story always has and continues to be the characters and their relationships. The relationships in this series are real - they are messy and complicated and true. I adored the awkwardness, the sadness, the banter, the complexity and the resolve surrounding each and every one. The feels are real people - they are real! In this crazy DNA driven world, the relationships and emotions are real, and that is an amazing thing to retain in a story that is so driven by science.

I once said that Spark whispers sweet nothings in your ear - and as much as that was true, the true gem of this series is the sugar coated candy that Shield delivered! And by sugar coated candy, I clearly mean ETHAN SHIRTLESS!!! Anyone who has eyes knows that I went on a one-woman mission to get a shirtless Ethan scene: hounding Rachael at every opportunity (and some self-made opportunities) for the eye-candy that is Ethan without a shirt. Don’t get me wrong, a shirtless Jamie isn’t bad, but I am not a teen and here was finally an age appropriate character I could ogle, if only this stoic, dedicated, loyal, tattooed German man would just take off his god-damned shirt! #shirtlessEthan became a mission for me. And Rachael DELIVERED!!! OH. MY. GOD! She totally delivered and I seriously LOVED it! I re-read this scene over and over and over again to the point I was unsure if I would ever get to the end of the book lol. So now #shirtlessEthan is not just a dream, it is in my dreams! I cannot thank Rachael enough for giving me this little piece of tattooed heaven J

Filled with twists, desperation, politics, determination and complexity - Shield is the perfect ending to this amazingly unique and intriguing world. There is heartbreak, joy, fear, betrayal and perseverance. Everyone has something to gain or lose - freewill.

You will not be disappointed with the conclusion of this epic trilogy. I was sad to say goodbye, but that did not stop me from loving the crap out of this book! And let’s be honest, I will be re-reading the #shirtlessEthan scene over and over again for a long time to come!



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