Spark is the third book from award-winning author Mitch Johnson and it makes for another excellent, thought-provoking and sometimes terrifying read. Addressing timely themes of climate change and our responsibility to leave the planet in a better state than what we found it, something that the ‘Ancestors’ have failed to do, Johnson’s tense and exciting narrative will hold readers in its grasp and will have them rooting for an unlikely hero.
In a drought-stricken and sun-baked world, only the bravest and hardiest will survive. Ash is one such survivor who, after his father disappeared, was taken in by the Priestess in Last Village. After a catastrophic storm, Ash awakens to find his village devoid of people and the lake, a precious source of water, dried up.
In desperate need of supplies, Ash, along with Bronwyn - an outcast girl from another village - head north in search of the legendary Kingdom - a thriving place of unimaginable riches. What they find though is not paradise, but a huge wall, villagers worked to the bone and something beyond their wildest dreams. Dangers and answers can be found at the Wall and maybe, just maybe, a spark to change the world…
Spark is richly imagined and presents an all too real possibility of an apocalyptic world that if we are not careful may be the world that one day the people of the future inherit. Unlike many reads, that often present a future world of utopian delights and luxury, Johnson offers a grim portrayal of a world that has been decimated by greed, corruption, beliefs, needs and where climate change has ravaged the land. In Ash’s world, water is the most precious of resources, something that is often easy to forget living in the Western world where clean drinking water is readily accessible. In Spark, every drop counts, ‘To cry is a crime, to spit is a sin.’
Ash lives in a society that praises and worships its great ancestors, where in truth, it is the ‘Ancestors’ and their lives of excess that are responsible for the mess and medieval existence the children find themselves in. As the two outcasts head off on an arduous trek across an arid landscape in search of a better life, they will come to question everything they have known, face terrible dangers and will be responsible for leading a revolution…‘All it takes is a spark.’
Children have the power to change the world, to atone for the mistakes of the adults and to make a difference where the adults have failed. Ash and Bronwyn epitomise what needs to be done; despite their differences they work together to bring about change and Ash is the revolutionary leader that the villagers and perhaps the world of today needs.
Whilst this isn’t my favourite of Mitch Johnson’s books - Kick will take some beating - it is an interesting venture into the world of dystopian fiction that will appeal to young activists.
With huge thanks to Hachette for the copy I received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 10+.