ARC Review: SPARK by M. G. Leonard (Middle Grade Monday)

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Genre: Mystery
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: yes - book 2

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for TWITCH*

Blurb:

When Jack rescues a wounded cat, he quickly suspects foul play. Could there be a wildlife criminal on the loose in Briddvale?

Jack rushes to investigate, determined to catch the culprit, only to stumble into a deepening mystery and a sinister criminal plot.

Can Jack and The Twitchers stop the villains before it’s too late?

Blurb taken from review copy.


Review:

I loved TWITCH so was very excited to learn about its companion, SPARK. This book follows Twitch’s best friend Jack as he gets drawn into a mystery about injured cats while also struggling with the fact he doesn’t the same enthusiasms over bird watching as the other Twitchers. He feels disconnected from the group.

This disconnect leads to some friendship issues when Twitch becomes very excited over a rare bird that is approaching. Jack, meanwhile, is more interest in solving the mystery of the injured animals (which has become more complicated by then), and feels ignored in the great frenzy of bird interest. I liked that we saw the other side of a great passion, the negative impacts it can have when allowed to push out all others – it’s still portrayed as a great hobby, just that (like any other) you shouldn’t get so wrapped up in it you forget your friends!

The book also has themes of justice for the environment and all. It touches on how land clearance makes natural disasters like flooding so much worse, and thus we need to care better for the environment. There is also the shooting of endangered animals for trophies and how some (particularly those with money) think that they’re above the law.

The big sequence where all the accusations and confessions come out is a really fun Halloween party set up. I loved the drama of it – very much helping to distinguish Jack from Twitch in their approaches to these things. It is nicely set up from the first chapter and the theme of it (Jack’s big thing) also nicely matches the rare bird at the heart of the books.

I also really appreciated that the Twitchers (who were very resourceful) saved the day without major risks and that the responsible adult at the end was actually very responsible. He took the big risk with the very, very dangerous part (though Jack had done some foolishly, impulsively dangerous things before, but once the adult were involved, they made sure the kids were safe.) The kids still get their moments doing things and are instrumental in catching the wrong doers, but when things get dangerous, I really loved seeing responsible adults being competent and making sure the kids are safe – it’s rather rare in fiction and it feels so important to show that adults can be trusted and can do their job of keeping kids safe.

The twitchers also expand in this book! I really hope they get another book, because the ending feels like it’s being set up for another…


Read my reviews of other books by M. G. Leonard:

Twitch (this series):

With Sam Sedgman:

Adventures on Trains:

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