I don’t get emails with authors asking me to review their books very often. And when I do, I tend to be super picky. But when Janina Franck contacted me about her YA sci-fi with space witches and an ace/aro protagonist. I was intrigued. I’m so glad I said yes to A Spark In Space, as otherwise, I’d have never heard of it. Instead, I get to shout about it to you guys and the world. And you’re gonna want to read this book!
Space witches are a powerful type of person who can control energy and technology. There are supposedly no human space witches… Until Tabea. After she saves a boy from a destroyed ship, Tabea has to work to hide her powers more than ever. But something happens, and she winds up in the custody of the penyales, an alien species known for hating humans. But for not being able to lie. They ask for her help and promise to help her find her friends. But can anything that’s happened recently be trusted?
I was a little torn on how to summarise this book. The official summary talks about the Penyales. But the first half of the book feels like something completely different. So I had to try to mash both parts together. And that’s basically it. Unsurprisingly, with the official summary being more focused on the second part. The first part does feel a little bit slow. It’s very much set up for world-building, introductions to the characters and the like. It wasn’t bad. But it didn’t necessarily stand out to me either. I’d forgotten the summary when I picked the book up, so I kind of thought it was going to stay at that level.
But it didn’t.
The first part wasn’t bad. I enjoyed the world-building and the friendships. I like seeing the fact Tabea is ace/aro basically being brought up, even if the words weren’t used. It’s made clear she just doesn’t do or get relationships. And that was great. But the second and third parts took it to a whole new level.
In part 2, you get a flashback that explains Tabea’s powers.
Part 3 starts with her on the Penyale ship, and it starts going into her needing to help them.
From part 2 onwards, I was hooked. Everything felt riskier and more action-packed. Plus, you were introduced to my favourite character: Sh’t’ani. They’re one of the penyales, and they are completely precious. They were a true friend in a difficult situation. And I just want to give them a massive hug. I’m sure they’d wag their tail if they did. I will say some of the stuff about the penyales vs humans did bug me a little. The penyales are more restrictive and classist. Whereas humans supposedly aren’t. And that’s clearly not true. I feel like Tabea probably would have had some issues being a scholarship kid. But her family also seem to be rich. So maybe she doesn’t have a clue how classist humans can actually be. But it did bug me a little that humans were being suggested as free and open, whereas the aliens were all bad. But this is something that could change in later books. We could meet other aliens and see other aspects. So I’m still excited, and I trust Janina to make it awesome.
The strongest part of this book was definitely the world-building and characters. It can be difficult to write sci-fi, as you have to explore all these new worlds. Especially when the earth is still a base. But Janina created different planets and species, and she explained them well. Even the fantastical magical element made sense. You get a little bit of a look as to where that supposedly come from. But I want to read more. I know you’ll learn more as Tabea learns more about her powers, and I’m so excited. The characters were also great. Even the characters you didn’t like, make you think. And though certain aspects seemed kind of obvious, it didn’t take any enjoyment away.
I started this book thinking this book would only be okay. I finished it wanting the second book right now. It’s a slow start but totally worth the ride.
If you’re looking for some new YA sci-fi then why not check this book out? You’ll be just as hooked as I was.