• by John Twelve Hawks
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • 11 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Edgy, hard-core, and wildly imaginative, this new thriller from New York Times best-selling author John Twelve Hawks (The Traveler, The Dark River, The Golden City) features an assassin-narrator unlike anyone we've seen before, set in a present-day dystopia.
Jacob Underwood is a contract employee of the Special Services Section, a shadow department in the faceless multinational corporation DBG. Jacob is not a businessman...he is a hired assassin...and his job is to neutralize problems deemed unacceptable by the corporation. Jacob is not like other employees, nor is he like other people. Suffering from Cotard's syndrome - a real condition that causes people to believe they are dead - Jacob perceives himself as nothing but a Shell with no emotion and no sense of right or wrong. Emily Buchanan is a bright young second-year associate for DBG, and she has disappeared without a trace. Suspecting she may have stolen valuable information and a fortune from the company, Miss Holquist - Jacob's handler at DBG - assigns him the task of tracking her down and neutralizing her. Jacob's condition allows him to carry out assignments with ruthless, logical precision - devoid of guilt, fear, or dishonor. But as his new assignment draws him inside a labyrinthine network of dark dealings, Jacob finds himself up against something he is completely incapable of understanding. Spark is an ingenious and chilling vision of modern-day humanity under constant, invasive surveillance and a pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Scott Brick’s narration sets an eerie tone in this mystery thriller about a man, Jacob Underwood, who lives in a near-future dystopian world in which he makes a living as an assassin. After experiencing a near life ending motorcycle accident Underwood believes he is one of the living dead making him a cold, emotionless, systematic killer with only a “spark,” of humanity left in him. This detached life style, however, soon becomes tested when he is given the most challenging assignments of his career.
The mysterious writer, who goes by the pseudonym, John Twelve Hawks and is the author of “The Fourth Realm,” seems to intertwine his own personal mistrust of governments and corporations into his writing but the end result is a rich and engaging story.
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- D "I read, I write; I listen"

I really wanted to like this book

This was my first John Twelve Hawks. Before I chose it, I read reviews from his other books and reviews for this book. He is loved and has many loyal followers, so I was looking forward to Spark.
The main character, Jacob Underwood, was the problem for me with this story. As the description says, he's a man with a brain injury that gives him perfect characteristics to be an assassin. He thinks he is dead so he feels nothing, no empathy, no sense of something being beautiful vs. being ugly, and no concept of the future. The problem with that premise is that there is no reason to care about him one way or the other as a reader. There is no character development because he doesn't have any personality. I wanted to care about Jacob, as he did is job, as he experienced the world around him, like traveling to foreign countries, and as he met the people he's supposed to murder, but there was nothing there. I didn't get to experience any feelings, any sensations, any change of heart because he has no feelings, senses, or heart.
The whole premise is interesting, but it needed another facet introduced, like he needed a handler, or he needed to have ONE part of his conscience work, so there would be something I could latch on to and care about.
The pace of the story, the action, the other characters, and the general idea of the book were good, but not enough to make it a great book.
There were all sorts of deep, thought provoking ideas around are we alive, what defines "alive," and how are we different than non-sapient beings. But again, that wasn't enough to carry the book.
Scott Brick as the narrator was a good choice, or maybe he was a bad choice, I couldn't tell. He did a nice job of interpreting the lack of emotion and sensations, but it got tedious. A couple times I wondered if I would like the story better if I read it instead of listened to it because the narrator really highlighted to stark-ness of the story.
The ending set up the possibility of a continuation of the story. I will not be getting the sequel if one comes out.
Bummer, I wanted to like it, but I do not recommend this book.
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- Marci

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-07-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio