Series Review: Stray + Shield

I just want to observe a moment of silence for all my emotions that were taken on an absolutely terrifying rollercoaster by these books. They were absolutely destroyed. That being said, THESE BOOKS WERE AMAZING AND YOU SHOULD ALL READ THEM.

I already did a review on the first book in the trilogy, Spark,  but I’m just going to take this time to properly squeal and flail about how awesome the sequels were. The reviews down below are completely spoiler free for the books themselves but they are sequels and therefore are going to have spoilers for Spark (so basically – go read Spark and come back!).

Just a quick summary for all of you that don’t know much about the books yet: The Spark Trilogy follows the life of Evie, who discovers that she’s a Shield (a result of genetic experimentation generations ago) who is now bound by DNA to protect her best friend (i.e. her Spark) from immenent murder. Awesome, I know. However, things don’t exactly go to plan for Evie – everything is against her, from the percentage of Shield’s that actually protect their first Spark (zero) and her best friend’s distractingly hot brother Jaime, who comes back into Evie’s life.  This trilogy has everything – familial dynamics, forbidden romances, friendships, science fiction – and is a definite must read!


Stray (Spark, #2)

Stray by Rachael Craw

Series: Book 2 in the Spark Trilogy

Genre: YA Sci-fi

Publisher: Walker Books Australia

Links:  Amazon // Booktopia // Dymocks // Goodreads


It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA.

Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.


(I was graciously sent a copy of this book in exchange for review by Walker Books Australia. This is no way affects my thoughts!) 


This book was PHENOMENAL, FANTASTIC, SUPERB and every other synonym you can think of. I am not even exaggerating – I mourned every time (damn you, real life) I had to put this book down because I just wanted to be back right there with the characters and in the world that Rachael Craw so wonderfully crafted.

This book continues on from where Spark ended, showing how Evie deals with some of the huge revelations that were made at the end of the first book. I know the term ‘strong female character’ is thrown around left, right and centre to describe YA protagonists but it describes Evie really well – she has had so many obstacles thrown at her in such a small space of time and still manages to stay sane throughout it all whilst also maintaining her tenacity of character. Aidan was also a character that I absolutely adored and we get to know a lot more about his character in this book, especially as he struggles with the guilt of his actions in the first book. The dynamic between Evie, Miriam and Aiden was also fascinating and refreshing in a YA world prone to disregarding familial relationships.

Where the first book had problems with info dumping, Stray jumps straight into the narrative, with a fast-paced plot that makes the book difficult to put down. We are also properly introduced to Affinty in this book which adds extra layers to the plot. It was super interesting to see how Shields, Sparks and Strays are actually treated by the institution and the nefarious (totally evil word for a totally evil organisation) people who control it.

Heightening the plot was the relationship between Evie and Jaime which was nothing short of sizzling. All it takes is a dash of forbidden romance and certain chance of death to elevate a relationship to totally angst-filled levels and it was EVERYTHING.

All in all, this was a fantastic addition to the trilogy and my favourite of the lot. The fast-paced plot, dimensional characters and fascinating world of Affinity all combine to create a truly unforgettable book.



Shield (Spark, #3)Shield by Rachael Craw

Series: Book 3 in the Spark Trilogy

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Walker Books Australia

Links: Booktopia // Dymocks // Goodreads


“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.


(I was graciously sent a copy of this book in exchange for review by Walker Books Australia. This is no way affects my thoughts!) 

overallnonspoiler.jpgShield was one of the strongest conclusions to a trilogy that I have ever read – an emotional and thrilling end to an already brilliant series. The great thing about these books is that they read very much like a movie, there isn’t a dull moment in them and because of that, they make great binge read material. Which is me trying to justify that I read both Stray and Shield over the span of 24 hours. Moving along…

Rachael Craw continued to utilise her magic combination of characters, world building and plot to create a fantastic story in Shield. These books are strong because of the fact that Craw doesn’t rely on just one element to drive the story, but instead wields all of them with impressive deft. We continue to learn more about the roots of Affinity and the histories of the characters introduced in Stray whilst simultaneously witnessing the impact that the ending of the second book had on all our characters.

This book focused more on the political aspects of Affinity and whilst that was super interesting (evil corporations usually are), it was not as high-paced and action packed as the second book (which, thinking back, was probably beneficial because I don’t think my emotions would have handled another battering a la Stray).

Now onto the juicy stuff: Evie and Jaime.

I talk about their relationship in every single one of the my reviews on this trilogy but Evie and Jaime’s relationship was hotter than ever in this book and I cannot get enough.


It may just be me, but I adore forbidden romances and the tension between Evie and Jaime hits breaking point in Shield. It is so addictive to read about, with the tension off-setted by how delightfully awkward they are around each other as they try to act like everything is normal. Also doesn’t help when a certain female from Jaime’s past makes a reappearance ;). Speaking of, we are introduced to a few new characters in the novel who are as complex and as interesting as all the ones we have been introduced to thus far. Davis, who I never dreamed of liking in Stray, really grew on me in Shield, exemplifying Craw’s spectacular character development and writing abilities. The only point of disappointment character-wise was that Kitty was not included as much as she was in the first book, which makes logical sense considering the story arc, but I missed seeing her and Evie’s interactions because their relationship was so sweet and empowering.

All in all, this was a strong concluding novel to the fantastic trilogy that is Spark. I highly, HIGHLY recommend these books to everyone – especially if you are in the market for some quality YA Sci-Fi! The world-building, characterisation and plot twists are done fantastically time and time and again and I guarantee that these are books you will be adding to your favourites lists if given the chance.




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