Unleashed 2: Mind Over Matter by Ali Sparkes

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Unleashed 2: Mind Over Matter by Ali Sparkes

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Some of Ms Sparkes's typically great writing, but the place this has in a huge ten-book undertaking means this is definitely not for all.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: January 2013
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 9780192756077

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To recap; this is the second in a series of five stand-alone books, where Ali Sparkes drags all the minor characters from her first, Shapeshifter, set of five books out into the daylight. They've all got to be introduced with the intention to make us aware how rare it is that they see the light of day – as Children of Limitless Ability they're normally stuck in a school for the superpowered. But here are Gideon and Luke, the boys who can move things with thoughts alone, on holiday. For their own adventure Sparkes has put them together with prehistoric animals, a girl with a weirdly old-fashioned, almost Dickensian problem, and a dog called Fish. Oh, and some very nasty men with guns…

I wasn't sure what I was going to get from this title. The consensus here at Bookbag Towers was that the first in this block of books wasn't up to the usual standard, neither here nor there, using the COLA children too freely, and not being that fabulous. In between time the publishers had held this book back almost a year, and given the whole series a new, more androgynous (and better) look. And while this remains one of this author's shorter novels for the tweenage reader, we certainly start this with a slow build.

But then, even after other cameos are forced into the plot by those at the COLA academy, things pick up and just take off. This is so much more satisfying as a sequel to the events of Stirring the Storm, than the aforementioned previous, and by the end one is warmly convinced this story is told, and these twins finished with. Before then we have a nicely twisty plot, with the expected zippy pace, allowing the adult reader at least to cover over the odd choice of using 127 Hours as inspiration and what is inherently guessable about the surprises.

However, that is not to say that this works brilliantly as a stand-alone, for it doesn't. The main events here are definitely of this book and no other, but too much refers back to, and is made more enjoyable by, what went before. While those of us in the know will get all the references backwards – and the exposition isn't done too heavily, all said and done – others seeing my recommendation could well wish for some COLA abilities themselves – those of the psychic kind.

So feel free to add half a mark to my Bookbag rating if you know of whom this book tells, for the rollicking, Isle of Wight tourist board-friendly drama does build and build from OK to top notch, but take half a mark at least off if you're coming fresh. This isn't for you – and the first several chapters will not be strong enough to make you disbelieve me in that.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Into That Forest by Louis Nowra will pack a punch with its tale of isolated children, and appeal to fans of the outdoorsy side of Ali Sparkes' writing.

Buy Unleashed 2: Mind Over Matter by Ali Sparkes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Unleashed 2: Mind Over Matter by Ali Sparkes at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Unleashed 2: Mind Over Matter by Ali Sparkes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Unleashed 2: Mind Over Matter by Ali Sparkes at Amazon.com.


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