I don't normally go in for middle grade novels unless the subject really grabs me, but I have really enjoyed Quirk's other books in the past and the idea of a bunch of teddy bears defending children from monsters really grabbed me.
Spark is a teddy bear belonging to a young girl named Loretta. Her older brother, Matthew, has a bear called Sir Reginald. Apparently, teddy bears belong to a secret league, vowing to protect their children, or "dusas," against evil. Before teddy bears, monsters were everywhere, but with the proliferation of these fluffy toys, their dark legion was pushed back...
Or so they thought.
Because children are starting to go missing and Spark has glimpsed a monster with her own button eyes. She knows that it's dangerous, and it's after her own little girl. Somehow, Spark has to stop it from taking Loretta-- and others. But HOW??
There were good things and bad things about SPARK. I was shocked by how dark it was. In some ways it reminded me a little of PET, although this book isn't quite as creepy. The story is unique and creative, and I liked how the author tried to flesh out the child characters and make them seem like people instead of, you know, stereotypes of what children are actually like.
Where this book falls a little flat is the shark-jumping in the third act. I actually liked what PET did, sublimating the whole "monster" issue, where it turns out that the real monster wasn't Pet at all, but humans who behaved like monsters. I feel like the author (understandably) didn't want to go quite that dark in his book, but it ended up feeling kind of silly after all of that build-up.
On a similar note, the lore behind the teddy bears was kind of cheesy and felt rushed. There was a bit of that whole "the monsters aren't what you expect" thing, but the reveal is spoiled by a previous exposition that just raises more questions than it answers. I get that this is a book for children, but I think it does children an injustice to assume that they won't subconsciously notice that some details are missing or maybe yearn for a darker, more developed world on a level they might not recognize.
All in all, this was fine. I feel like it'll appeal to the age demographic that enjoys Goosebumps novels and doesn't mind a bit of cheese with their horror. I thought it was cute and read it to the end, but it wasn't as satisfying as I wished it was.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
3 out of 5 stars