Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Skylark

Skylark

Meagan Spooner
Fiction
For ages 14 and up
Lerner, 2012   ISBN: 978-0761388654

Most children in the city have their Resource (which is what they call magic) harvested when they are still quite young. Lark is sixteen and she still has not gone through the rite of passage that is so essential to the city, and she is desperately hoping that this time, this Harvest Day, she will be chosen. Just as she has done before, Lark sneaks into her school to check the list and sees, once again, that her name is not on it. She is therefore very shocked when she gets home and her brother tells her that she has been chosen. A carriage is sent to her home and Lark is taken to the Institute to have her Resource harvested.

   As Lark is being led down the many hallways in the Institute, she manages to get away from her escort and she makes her way to the place where records are kept. She wants to see if she can find out what happened to her brother, Basil, who left the city some time ago. The authorities never properly explained what happened to Basil when he went outside the Wall, the Resource powered dome that encloses and protects the city from the harsh world outside.  Though she does not have time to open and examine them, Lark sees that there are several boxes with Basil’s name on them, and there is even a box with her name on it.

   Not knowing where she is going, Lark wanders around and then finds herself in a room where a woman is connected to machines by glass tendrils that are attached to her skin. Lark is shocked when she realizes that the woman is generating Resource. She is a Renewable who can generate Resource, and she is being used to keep the city going. The woman tells Lark to “run,” which the terrified girl does, but she does not get far. She is caught and is put in the Machine so that her resource can be harvested. Then she is fed a feast and the process is repeated. Lark has never heard of someone being harvested more than once. She tries to protest, but she is so exhausted and sick that she cannot do anything but comply.

   Finally the Institute people allow her to rest and they tell her that she will going “home.” At first Lark is relieved, but then she realizes that what they mean is that she is going to hooked up to the machine with the glass tubes, like the poor woman she saw. She is not just going to have her Resource harvested, she is going to become the city’s source of Resource.

   Thankfully there is one person at the Institute who seems to feel badly for Lark. He gives her a key and helps her to escape, and after getting a message from the Renewable woman to “Find the Iron Wood. You will know where to go. Follow the birds,” Lark runs for life, taking the path her brother Basil took; Lark walks through the Wall and enters the world beyond.

   Lark has no idea how to survive outside of the city, and the only thing that saves her is the help that she gets from a strange boy, who seems to appear whenever she needs help the most. Eventually he leads Lark to a safe place, a place where there is a pocket of magic, a place where there are flowers and bees and other animals. None of these things exist outside of the pocket and for a short time Lark is happy, but they have to keep moving. The boy, Oren, seems to be willing to take her some of the way to the Iron Wood, and since he seems to know what he is doing, Lark is glad of his help. What she does not realize until much later is that Oren is not who he seems to be, and neither is she.

   In this fascinating book we see how one poor defenseless girl is manipulated by the powers that be to help them. It is interesting to see how Lark learns how to cope, and how she also learns how to stand up for what she believes is right. It turns out that her world is lot more complicated that it seemed at first, and she is not what she seems either. 

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