From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-In this mildly interesting first book in a dystopian steampunk series, Lark intends to follow tradition and have her Resource (magic) harvested at the Institute when she's 16 and officially becomes an adult. Instead, she's held captive-to be forever linked with glass wires protruding from her veins to a machine to supply the city's power. Her Resource is different. She has the rare ability to renew it. Kris, a sympathetic Institute staff member, helps Lark escape. She crosses the Wall that surrounds their domed city to try to reach others like her living in the Iron Wood-a perilous journey through a wilderness filled with human cannibals. She's also being tracked by a tiny mechanical pixie. With the aid of a mysterious boy named Oren, she succeeds in finding the Iron Wood and is taken in, even though the people sense her magic's not like theirs. Kris shows up claiming that he had to escape because they found out he helped her. Then Lark discovers everything she's been told is a lie. She's not a Renewable and Oren's not who she thought he was. There is little explanation about how this dystopian world came about. The book focuses exclusively on Lark, and the rest of the characters are seriously underdeveloped. Lark's not even that interesting. Fortunately, Oren is. Readers who stick with the story may be rewarded with more fleshed-out characterizations in the next book, but it's doubtful that most teens will have that much patience.-Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trentonα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This heavily anticipated dystopian debut mostly lives up to its hype. Lark Ainsley is 16, older than most kids when their Resource gets harvested. All she wants is to quietly contribute to the City’s daily operation. But Lark finds out she is a Renewable, a hugely unfortunate creature who has the rare ability to power the City as it struggles to protect its citizens from the outside world long devastated by the ancient Wars. Held against her will and tortured in ways described with relentless, excruciating detail, Lark finally manages to escape. As she travels the blighted landscape of the world outside her domed City, she encounters terrors as seemingly benign as the sky (which she has never before seen) to those as treacherous as trees with razor teeth. Magic and technology blend seamlessly here, although the emphasis on exposition rather than dialogue sometimes bogs down the pages. The current demand for grim YA renditions of a dystopian future, plus the splashy landing, will likely ensure a significant readership for fans of the genre. Grades 9-12. --Julie Trevelyan