Author(s): Rachael Craw
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.
Evie left her story in the previous book Spark (which you should read, since it is really good as well) in a good place. She had achieved her mission and was ready to try to embrace the world that she had been so ungraciously thrust into – but apparently this was not supposed to happen, and the ever-threatening presence of the Affinity Project has finally caught up with her. And let’s just say, things go pretty bad, for Evie at least – it made for some good reading for me. This book was slightly different from the last book. I felt as though the characters were beginning to really come out of their shells. It was also interesting to have even more people enter the book and to see how they related to the wider picture. It was a book with everything: budding romance (although that was cruelly snuffed out, but I shan't name names, although it did make me mad as I was rooting for said people), a crazy secret organisation, SUPER POWERS (which are always good), and lots of attempts at running away. So read it, love it. Also read Spark. Another good thing was that I had read Spark ages ago, but, reading Stray, it wasn't hard to follow the story. So read it and then feel sad because you have to wait for the next book – but not so sad because you can just read this one till then. - Sara (18)
Rachael Craw’s second YA novel in the ‘Spark’ series is Stray, and wow! This is fast-paced, addictive reading. Spark was wonderful, with the feisty Evie and her discovery of her altered DNA, her fate, and plenty of romance with the gorgeous Jamie, as well as plenty of dangerous, almost uncontrollable, encounters with a DNA-altered killer, and the persistent threat of the Affinity Project. Stray is even better – it hits the ground running, gives Evie and Jamie tough situations and reveals more about The Affinity Project- its endeavours both worthy and corrupt. This is a deeper, more complex story that will hold your attention at high alert and answer some questions that arose in the first book. For those that haven’t cottoned on to this excellent Sci-Fi series yet, start reading. At the heart of this series is Evie, a strong female protagonist who is also very real, very human, who makes mistakes and follows her emotions as well as her gut instinct. She is confused in Spark, dealing with the death of her mother, coping with her new-found super-powers and also falling in love. In Stray she is tougher but more vulnerable. She needs others more readily, but also learns that she has a capacity for endurance in the face of inhumane treatment at the hands of Affinity that gives her a single-mindedness to survive and save those most precious to her. It’s raw, emotional and completely compelling. The trilogy will be completed with Shield next year, and I can’t wait to read it. - Stella
Winner of the HELL Children's Choice Young Adult Fiction at the NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults 2016