Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Sparks by S.J. Adams

Title: Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie
Author: S. J. Adams
Publisher: Flux
Release date: January 1st 2011
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: BEA 13
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Since sixth grade, Debbie Woodlawn has nursed a secret, heart-searing crush on her best friend, Lisa. But all those years of pretending to enjoy Full House reruns and abstinence rallies with Lisa go down the drain when her friend hooks up with Norman, the most boring guy at school. This earth-shattering event makes Debbie decide to do the unthinkable: confess her love to Lisa. And she has to do it tonight--before Lisa and Norman go past "the point of no return." So Debbie embarks on a quest to find Lisa. Guiding the quest are fellow students/detention hall crashers Emma and Tim, the founding (and only) members of the wacky Church of Blue. Three chases, three declarations of love, two heartbreaks, a break-in, and five dollars worth of gas later, Debbie has been fully initiated into Bluedaism--but is there time left to stop Lisa and Norman from going too far?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Since I hadn't heard anything about Sparks before picking it up, and the whole Bluedaism and Quest and all of that sounded really weird and out-there, my expectations for Sparks were not exactly high. Luckily, those low expectations made it even better when I ended up loving the book! The randomness of the plot that threw me off at first ended up being refreshing and entertaining - I'm so glad I gave this book a chance!

The characters are what make this story so good. Debbie is an endearing character - she's a bit clueless and naive, but lovable nonetheless, and she's definitely easy to relate to. Emma and Tim are characters that I know will stay with me; they are quirky and unique, and I really appreciated their openness and honesty. The only character that is slightly underdeveloped is Lisa: our view of her changes towards the end, and I wish that had been explored in a little more depth.

All that stuff about Bluedaism threw me off at first, reading the description, but I ended up loving it. This "religion" that Emma and Tim have created is so much fun to read about. They have come up with some ridiculous tasks, which made this quest hilarious and entertaining, and it made me want to know all about their previous quests and adventures, too.

One thing that does need to be said, though, is that the whole made-up religion thing is kind of problematic. I personally didn't mind because I'm not a very religious person, but if you are, you might find parts of this story kind of offensive. Especially calling their religion Bluedaism and painting a statue of Buddha - a symbol of another religion - and appropriating it for their own purpose is disrespectful and problematic. I still really enjoyed the story, but just... be aware.

I was really surprised with how much I loved Sparks, a novel that has been pretty much completely overlooked in the YA blogosphere. With lovable characters, a hilarious plot, and a heartwarming message, Sparks is a novel I really enjoyed. You should definitely give it a try!


  1. (not sure this is showing up; trying multiple computers around here! Beta software and all). SJ here. I had some issues with the Buddha thing as well. BN's cover guidelines at the time were that YA covers (that aren't by people famous enough to sell via name recognition) should either have a girl's face or an "iconic object" (like, say, an apple or a chess piece...). Thrilled to be even asked (sometimes I don't see a cover til it hits amazon), I suggested a dashboard figurine that I'd write into the last round of edits. The blue Buddha is what they came up with, so I added it in, albeit with some reservations. I tried to have Tim explain his reasoning and acknowledge it a bit, though his explanation isn't in the advance copies. Anyway, glad you liked it! Happy to answer any questions; email staff AT - "SJ"

    1. It did show up this time - sorry if my site was giving you trouble; I know it's annoying and just kind of swallows comments sometimes.

      Thanks for explaining - that makes a lot of sense! Like I said, I personally didn't mind, and the characters' explanations do make sense. But I could imagine that a Buddhist might not be too happy about Buddha being appropriated this way. Anyways, thanks for taking the time to comment :)

    2. Totally my fault; wasn't signing in properly. I totally agree; I can see how some people might be offended and not even in one of those "dig hard enough, imagine a different context, and find a way to get offended" ways that come up from time to time in viral articles. All I can really do is agree and throw the publishers under the bus, though, and I don't want to do that. I should have been more forceful in my concerns early on.


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