Spark by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #2
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: August 28th 2012
Synopsis: Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally. Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it. And no one seems to believe him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Because Layne has a few secrets of her own…
There is always that fear of the sequel not being as good as the first book when you continue a series. Luckily, Brigid Kemmerer is starting to seem like the kind of author who does nothing but improve. Spark completely blows Storm out of the water– or should I say (…WAIT FOR IT!) fire!
There are so, so many things that have improved since Storm. The characterization is stronger. The prose has developed into something more witty than it was in the previous book. The plot is tighter and more exciting. The family dynamics are at their best. The romance is even more romantic. The whodunnit arsonist mystery is intriguing. And the ending chapters are just amazing.
Some people might be scared off by this installment of the Elemental series, since the novel is narrated by Gabriel. And they have good reason to. Gabriel was a complete jerk throughout the majority of Storm, what with all his sexist comments and insults. In Spark, though, I found myself not disliking him as much as I did because of the look in Gabriel’s mind that the book provided.
Spark shows that Gabriel, our fictional pyromaniac, is a complex, lonely character carrying a lot of self-doubt on his shoulders. He is extremely ill at ease about the fact that he lacks the control to manipulate fire, the Element he has a special affinity to, and feels inferior to his brothers because of that lack of control. And the grief he feels because of his parents’ death, which he blames himself for, is especially apparent to the reader. But he tries to hide all that from the people around him, hiding his true self behind the constant insults and fights. Because of this new depth that was added to Gabriel’s character, I came to love him. Sure, I still wanted to smack him in the fact at times, but there were also times when I wanted to leap inside the book and glomp him.
Layne, the other main character of Spark, is quite the heroine. I thought that she was a bit strange when I first ‘met’ her, since she seemed a bit high-strung. But she also develops into a character I thoroughly loved. Really, how could I not love her? She knew when to get angry at Gabriel when he was acting like a jerk, and how she handled the responsibility of taking care of her family that was left strained because of her mother’s ditching of the family is truly admirable. I could also genuinely relate to her and the bullying she goes through.
Sparks (sorry. I couldn’t help it) really fly with Gabriel and Layne’s romance…although, it does take a while to get the fire (again, sorry) going. There is definitely a awkward phase in which the two characters are very nervous about their attracting to each other. And then you have to consider that both the characters are insecure and tend to push people away. But that awkardness starts to become something very sweet and touching. The chemistry between the two is undeniable.
Some other characters I am interested in are Hunter and Michael. Awhile the reader knows Hunter’s personality, the reader doesn’t know much about him. The same goes for Michael.
Another thing that I have noticed about this series is how is addresses the bullying that goes on in school. First, in Storm, it was Becca becoming an outcast because people thought she slept with half the high school. Now it is Layne being bullied by people because of her burn scars and her brother Simon being bullied because he is deaf. And don’t even mention the beatings that the Merrick brothers get into. Brigid Kemmerer really knows how to show this ugly and common part of life in a way that makes the reader aware, but doesn’t make the novel an ‘issue book.’
The Elemental series is still going strong with its addictive, refreshing story, amazing characters, and occasional moments of substantial emotion. I’m really starting to think that I should just go ahead and marry myself to this series.