"Evie is out of options. She must comply with the Affinity Project - obey their rules, play their deadly games, give up Jamie. And her losses keep growing. When she decides to help a small group of Shields trying to affect change, Evie finds herself in the firing line. Counsellor Knox is intent on revealing her secrets and shackling her to the Affinity Project for life. To protect her family, Evie must betray those closest to her."
Eeeeeee! I've been waiting and waiting for this one! Spark and Stray were so great (reviews here and here), I had high expectations for Shield. Happily, these were exceeded!
Shield sets a cracking pace and keeps it. It was fun, and thrilling, and intense (but in the best way). Basically, Shield turns it up to level 11, and you just hang on tight till the end. I'm talking action here, but it's an emotional roller coaster too, as all the best YA novels are. Pain and angst and butt-kicking.
I always liked the central characters, but even more so in book three. Craw has always had a handle on the fine balance between strong and vulnerable, and this was most obvious to me in Shield. Evie is tough, and she's suffered some pretty big losses, and how she just carries on and keeps kicking butt, I do not know. But she's not all super-hero, and I like that. She feels all the feels and endures some truly heinous moments. For instance, that claustrophobia scene in the basement. I'm still recovering...
I also continued my admiration of Jamie, who is a well-worthy love interest. Strong, sensitive, handsome. <<< Trifecta. Davis reappears, and I love the part he plays. He kinda won my heart, to be honest. There are a couple of new characters too, this time round, each of them nuanced and fully-fleshed. I loved what they brought to the story. There was almost an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D team vibe going on, which was really fun to read.
Basically, the whole cast is 👌
My only regret was not having enough of the interplay between Evie and Kitty that made Stray so fun. But I get it, this wasn't a book about Evie and Kitty. This was a book about Evie and The Affinity Project, which is a pretty hefty relationship to deal with as is.
Craw's descriptive writing takes you right into the heart of each scene in a very visceral way (again, that basement scene - gut = wrenched). Like others have noted, it's so easy to imagine these on the big screen. I'm pretty psyched that Spark (book one) has been optioned for film, and will wait with baited breath to see how that pans out.
If you haven't read any of the series, get them on your summer reading list! Craw is a NZ author to watch, with a film option and NZ Book Award for Children and YA already under her belt, I think we can continue to expect huge things.
Review copy provided by Walker Books.