Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer: review

Spirit (Elemental, #3)Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #3
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: K Teen
Release Date: May 28th 2013
Synopsis: With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…

*Want to sample Spirit? Well, you can! The first chapter of Spirit is available here.*

My Thoughts:

Brigid Kemmerer has successfully taken my breath away. And I’m still struggling to get it back. Spirit is like a powerful punch to the gut with its emotional and quite addicting the story. Awhile the boy-meets-girl subplot is definitely there, like in the other two books in the series, Storm and Spark, the core of the story is an enrapturing tale of learning to trust that surprised me so much with the intense beauty it held.

Yeah, this is a beauty of a book.

If the writing was decent in Storm and great in Spark, then the writing in Spirit is gorgeous. Kemmerer has a gift for creating witty, substantial prose that will keep a person’s eyes on the pages no matter what happens. I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have cared if a tornado hit because the writing pulled me in so much. (I am happy that a tornado didn’t happen, though. I do like being alive a great amount.)

The story, well, it isn’t very complex. In fact, Spirit‘s story is pretty simple: the Guides want all the Elementals gone, and a crazy girl wants to create a war. But the constant kicks to the feels, fast pacing, and clean execution make it absolutely amazing. And the refreshing originality is not something that should be missed!

The most risky, awesome thing about Spirit is the character and development of Hunter Garrity. A character that feels completely lost with a  habit of not trusting people and pushing them away and his yearning to please his father, even if he is deceased, is a hard thing to pull off, I believe. And the fact that he seems to be making questionable choices throughout the book doesn’t make his character any less riskier.

But Kemmerer seems to know what she is doing, and pulls off this feat magnificently. I could intimately relate to Hunter, and really felt every bump in the road he had to go through. I felt his anxiety. doubts, and hurt. I also felt hit growth as the story progressed. Hunter is an almost-tangible character.

There is another character, Kate Sullivan. And oh is she a sight to see! She is completely different from Becca and Layne. It only takes a few chapters for the reader to learn that this girl is flirtatious, confident, and bold. But she also has a hidden agenda that could put the Merrick brothers at risk. Kate, like Hunter, has her own self-doubts and apparent flaws. And she, too, gets a realistic development.

I expected a romance and wasn’t surprised when it appeared. I wasn’t expecting for it to be so good, though! Hunter and Kate’s romance is by far the best in the series. Their coming together because of their shared loneliness, self-doubts, and issues with trust, helping each other both overcome their flaws. Just wow. I don’t even know how to begin. Just know that the romance can be compared to many other YA novels and come out victorious.

And there is one certain character death that is just terrible. In an incredibly good, sad way. I was shocked and misty-eyed when it happened. The ending is pretty frigging emotional, too.

I am literally only centimeters away from taking over the world so I can force everyone to read this book. Centimeters away. We’re all lucky that I’m pretty daft and don’t know how to take over the world. If this is what Kemmerer can do, then I have no doubt that she will become one of my favorite writers.

Be sure to follow the rest of the Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden!

An advance copy was provided in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.

Spark by Brigid Kemmerer: review

Spark (Elemental, #2)Spark by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #2
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Kensington
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…

My Thoughts: 

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.

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer: review

Storm (Elemental, #1)Storm by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #1
My Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: April 24th 2012
Synopsis: Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys; all the ones she doesn’t want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming.

My Thoughts:

Storm is a book people will open up because of other promise of five hot, swoon-worthy guys, awesome Elemental powers, and ultimately, lots of fun. And I doubt that many people will be disappointed. This book is nearly as fun as running around in the rain awhile thunder roars. Does anyone else do that? No? Okay then.

I believe that Kemmerer did a great job in the characterization department for this novel. I felt distant from Becca at first because her character was so… quiet, but as the pages turned, I started to understand her and feel a strong emotional connection with her. Chris is also very quiet compared to the rest of his brothers. Saying that he is the brooding type wouldn’t be a lie.

Then we have the rest of the Merrick family. We have Michael, a person who is kind of a jerk, but I think it’s because he has to. Protecting and taking care of all those boys isn’t an easy feat. And then there is Nick and Gabriel. We don’t get much of Nick in this book, but there is plenty of Gabriel. I can’t say I liked him very much since he came off as a sexist person. But I do think that he can develop into a better person in Spark, the next book in the Elemental series. Oh, and I can’t forget Hunter! He isn’t a Merrick boy, but his character is still very, very attractive 😛 He is a very sweet, caring guy, and he is pretty mysterious. My wanting to learn more about him is one of the reasons I was so glued to this book.

My favorite aspect of Storm is the family dynamics between all the Merrick brothers. Sure, they get on each others nerves and get in fights, but they always stay loyal. I found that to be very touching. The interactions between the brothers is fluid, seemingly effortless with all the witty comments and intense fights. I am always thinking that there should be more focus on  realistic sibling relationships in YA, so Storm was a lovely surprise.

The romance does take up a fairly large piece of the story. But it was a good romance. The featured love triangle between Becca, Chris, and Hunter is pretty well done. It doesn’t get in the way of the forwarding of the plot, but it does have the time to realistically develop. And I got to admit that the kiss on the last page of the book made me swoon ❤

Brigid Kemmerer’s writing is not the best I have read, but it is decent and gets the job done. There are some times when the writing has some dashes of snark and humor, which I really loved.

Awhile the little aspects the story has are definitely awesome, the story itself is pretty cool also. A book about a hot group of boys with the power to control the Elements and a girl trying to escape death? Sign me up! And the crisp, clean execution and the good pacing only make the story more addictive. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t any flaws, though…

I think that the ending is a little anti-climatic and rushed. It wasn’t a bad ending, I just think that, compared to the rest of the novel in which Kemmerer seems to take her time, the ending is just a little too fast. That’s really the only issue I had with Storm. The rest of the novel is great fun!

Storm is a very promising start to a series that I’m certainly going to continue reading. I can already feel the fire Spark promises and the power Spirit promises. I would recommend this first book to lovers of paranormal fiction, specifically ones that are fans of reading about the main elements being sources of power. And of course, fans of hot guys.