Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Spark (Elementals #2), Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Spark
Author: Brigid Kemmerer (author website)
Release Date: September 2012 by Allen & Unwin
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

There’s no denying Brigid Kemmerer took the blogosphere by, well, ’storm’ earlier this year with her debut novel, so it comes as little surprise her sophomore release, Spark, is just as incendiary. So, now I’m satisfied it’s not possible to include any additional puns in this paragraph, let’s talk about what makes Spark so damn good.

From Goodreads:
Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.

Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents.

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.

More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake -- this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own.

Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking.

The fuse is lit...

The Story:

It's never been more dangerous to be an Elemental. 'Gifted' with the ability to control fire, Gabriel Merrick is explosive as his element, and after recent attacks on his family by 'Guides'—the body that governs elementals, and executes full-blooded ones like Gabriel and his three brothers—it feels like his ability to hold it together is more tenuous than ever. The fact that he’s failing his classes and has been caught out for cheating is just one more step towards breaking, not to mention the recent spate of torched homes, and that the fire department seems to think he's a suspect.

Then along comes Layne. A quiet, shy, brainiac, Gabriel’s sat next to her in calculus for ages, but it’s only now that he notices her. Well, Layne’s sure noticed him, and as she helps him with his study, the two can’t deny the chemistry they share. While Layne has dark, painful secrets of her own, Gabriel’s may just get them both killed...

My Thoughts:

Picking up where Storm left off, Brigid wastes no time jumping straight into the action. The familiar rhythm of her prose returns, as does her razor sharp dialogue and humour. But rather than Storm’s narrators, Chris Merrick and Becca Chandler, Spark introduces readers to two new protagonists: a shy, brainy woman named Layne, and someone they already know: Gabriel Merrick.

It’s more dangerous than ever to be an Elemental, but Gabriel Merrick has a knack for playing with fire. It’s Gabriel who proves Spark's’s biggest surprise. An easy fan-favourite in Storm, despite his initially callous treatment of its protagonist, Gabriel is very different to the abrasive, cocky jock readers may think they already know. There is a lot more to Gabriel Merrick than meets the eye, and indeed more than he himself may recognise. The jock façade is hiding a raging inferno of pain, self-doubt and loneliness. In many ways, it’s these qualities that connect him with Layne, as well as building a difficult roadblock to what develops between them.

Layne, like Gabriel, hides a past of secrets and hurt, but while she is quiet and shy, she is certainly not meek. Layne has an inner-core of steel and a quiet strength, but she is not perfect—far from it. While she is selfless with those she loves, she is prone to defensiveness, slow to trust and cagey, but it only serves to render her more relateable and sympathetic.

In Storm, Brigid demonstrated an extraordinary talent for building a world and populating it with characters who felt real. From her pitch-perfect Merrick brothers, to the damaged but sweet Becca, there is an authenticity to her characters, and their stories, and it is no less present in Spark. Again, Brigid takes a cold hard look at bullying in its many forms, and at the helpless fury and hopelessness it creates in its victims. She examines pain, grief and isolation, but never in a melodramatic or overwrought fashion. Allowing actions to speak for themselves, Kemmerer presents a world with life how it is: beautiful and ugly, just and unfair, filled with terrible wrongs and rights. Gabriel and Layne are not perfect, nor are those they love, but they are human and eminently likable characters. Even at their darkest moments, they elicit undeniable empathy at the tip of Kemmerer’s pen. And that’s not even mentioning what else they elicit in their thrilling, sizzling-hot scenes together. The chemistry the couple share is electrifying, and readers looking for even more heat from a book filled with fires will be far from dissapointed.

As in Storm, at the heart of Spark are the Merrick brothers. But recent events have left raw nerves and short tempers, and we see a more combustible side to the family, as well as deepening bonds between the growing cast of secondary characters. Readers of Storm would have seen identical twins Nick and Gabriel as two halves of a whole, and there’s a palpable aching as a rift drives them apart in Spark.

While it would be easy for Kemmerer to have written a book purely focused on and driven by the paranormal, she never takes this path, and it’s one of her Elemental series’ greatest strengths: Brigid does not write about the supernatural, she writes about, people. Paranormal abilities do not serve to make her players more magnetic or romantic; rather, they are challenges. She does not romanticise great power, but examines its cost, its responsibilities. Indeed, the Elemental series reads less like teen-vampire dramas, and more like gritty contemporaries.

The Verdict:

Readers who fell in love with Storm with be thrilled by this explosive sequel. Spark delivers on all fronts: action, a sizzling-hot romance, and yes, hot boys are all there, but there is more. Spark, like Storm, has heart. It has a human sensibility to its supernatural elements, and it is this, perfectly balanced with riveting story and flawless pacing that combine to make another compulsively readable offering from its talented author. Brigid Kemmerer delivers again: big time.

Books in This Series:

  1. Storm (May 2012)
  2. Spark (September 2012)
  3. Spirit (May 2013)
An enormous thank you to Brigid and her US publisher, Kensington Teen for providing a review copy of Spark!

51 comments:

  1. Seriously, I may have just considered calling out sick JUST so I can stay at home with Spark!!

    Like alaways, FAB review!!

    And because I don't think we ever talked about this, do we get some Becca/Chris/Hunter closure??!!! Or maybe not closure but do they get some adorable couple time??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EEEEEEEEEEEEE! IT'S WORTH IT!
      And that is a GREAT question. YES. You get closure. Things keep moving forward from where they were left in the end of Storm, and it's really lovely seeing Becca and Chris in a relationship in this one! ♥

      Oh goodness. HUNTER. ASDFGHJKL. ME WANT SPIRIT. NOW.

      Delete
  2. I want to read this because if I'm not mistaken the story is told from a guy's POV? I recommended this to my son, I hope he picks it up soon.

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    1. It's split point of views between Gabriel and Layne, same as Storm (which was Becca/Chris). Actually, it's one of the things I LOVED about Storm--the fact that it had characters and genuine appeal for guys, as well as the typical YA paranormal girl readers? LOVED this, and Brigid write such insanely authentic male characters.

      I'm reading Pushing The Limits at the moment which is another split POV one, too! LOVE it :)

      Delete
  3. I love this review! I should probably admit that I haven't read Storm yet (I know - there's something wrong with me!) but now I have gushing reviews of Storm AND Spark urging me on. :D I love that the characters felt so real and authentic. I am much more of a character person than plot person so this sounds just like my type of book. Plus it's good to hear Gabriel's character shows more depth than what was presented in Storm. Great review, Sarah! :)

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    1. EE! Thanks, Sam! It's a seriously FANTASTIC book, Storm AND Spark. So hope you love it when you get to it--both are SO worth the read! ♥

      Delete
  4. I loved Storm and I can't wait to read this book! Gabriel does give off a cocky personality in the first book so I'm looking forward to seeing what lies beneath the surface. Great review!
    New follower!

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    1. Thank you! Oh, seriously, if you loved Storm I'm SURE you'll love this one! I mean, Gabriel's still Gabriel, but you get to find out WHY he is, and really who, and SDAJFJDFA. SO MUCH AMAZING!

      Delete
  5. Amazing review, Sarah! Spark is such an awesome book, I loved it! Poor Gabriel, eh? He's hurting so much in this book :( SO looking forward to Spirit! :D

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    1. Oh goodness, I KNOW. I WANTED TO HUG HIM AND MAKE IT ALL BETTER *CRIES*

      But, you know, I think Layne does a very good job of that for him >:D

      Delete
  6. I have no words.. This review is better than Gabriel wrapped up in a bow *__* Spark sounds so darn amazing for too many reasons to even mention. I'm so very excited to read this. And did I say that this review is magnificent?!

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    1. Uh... seriously... uh... Gabriel wrapped in a bow? THINK OF WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, GIRL! I so can't wait for you to read it, Lisa! I KNOW you're going to love it! AND THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! ♥

      Delete
  7. Fab review, Sarah! I can't wait to get know Gabriel better, I'm SO looking forward to reading from his POV. I'm also interested in meeting Layne... Not too long to go before I'll be reading this! :)

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    1. I REALLY loved Layne, Bec! I SO knwo you're gonna love it :D

      Delete
  8. I bought Elemental and I was approved for Spark and now all I'm missing is Storm and gosh, help me, I NEED IT. Especially after this mind-blowing review, Sarah! I'm so a Gabriel fan already. Like, seriously in love with his TYPE. So I can't wait to actually meet the guy underneath the quintessential tough, rough boy ;-D

    — Asher @ Paranormal Indulgence

    ReplyDelete
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    1. ASDFGHGHDGJWSDFSA.
      STOOOOOOOORM. Seriously. We must fix this. You HAVE to read Storm. I KNOW you're gonna love it! ♥

      *starts plotting*

      Delete
  9. If there's one thing I love about Brigid (and I love a lot of things about this epic author!), it's how she's never reluctant to jump straight into the action and I LOVE how you mentioned that here! Being instantly absorbed into Storm? That was one of my favourite things! I'm already bursting at the seams in excitement from the way you described the sizzling romance although I shouldn't have expected anything less -- I mean, this is a SARAH review, after all! :')

    Beautiful review, Sarah-bara! *stares at mailbox with goggles for mailman to hurry with my copy* 8) <3

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    1. EEEEEEEEEEEE! MIMIMIIIIIIIII! I seriously don't know what to say *hugs* LOVES YOU AND YOUR COMMENTS!

      Brigid is AMAZING, and YES! SHE'S SO GOOD AT THE ACTION! And the brothers... and the EVERYTHING. And OMFG. THE ROMANCE. IT'S HAWT.

      Delete
  10. Great review, Sarah. You had me swooning over Gabriel more than I already was. Now I find it slightly more creepy that I want to name my future son Gabriel. I think I have to rethink names. LOL. Can't wait to read Spark! We all love those Merrick boys! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahahaha! Oh, well, you know, it's customary in some parts to name your children after their fathers, right? >:D

      Delete
  11. Oh dear! amazing review and Im drooling over these guys. I got my own copy of Storm but I havent get to it yet. SNIFF!! but I definitely will. Your review of it was one of the reason why I purchadsed that book and hopefully I'll read it withing the next two weeks!

    Excellent review my dear!! cant wait to read these hot romances kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!! muah!!! XOXOXOXO take care!!! ^.^

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    1. EEEEEEE! I so so so so soooooo hope you love it, Natalia! It's EFFING AMAZING... huh. What a coincidence... JUST LIKE YOU! ♥

      Delete
  12. I am officially jealous of you. Just so you know. I WANT - no - NEED this book! Fantastic review!

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    1. Oh goodness, SOOOO want you to get your hands on it, too! It's SO good, Erin! I know you'll love! I somehow get the feeling Gabriel's your kind of man ;D ♥

      Delete
  13. I skimmed this because I haven't read Spark yet but I'm glad you love it, Saz! Brigid certainly knows how to right about boys ;)

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    1. Oh YES she does. I so hope you love it, Mands! xx

      Delete
  14. How have I not heard of this series before. One of the most interesting thing about some series is how they take a family and make each member a main character for each book. A great blend of the familiar with a dash of new perspective. I'm going to check this one out right now!

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    1. Oooh, Lan, Storm is a FANTASTIC book. Really fantastic, authentic characters, and a heroine I genuinely enjoyed (some can just be so UGH). Ooooh, you know what? Stay tuned for August... we might just have an opportunity to get your hands on a copy if you don't pick one up first :D

      Delete
  15. I have been seeing so much about this series. I am interested, especially after your reviews, but for some reason I get the idea that these books are a little juvenile. Am I getting the wrong impression? Will adults like this book?

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    Replies
    1. They're DEFINITELY young adult, but they have very... real life struggles, and I think they're exceptionally well done. There's an authenticity and rawness to the characters that I LOVE, and can be missing that kind of elevate them above juvenile, if you know what I mean?

      You know what? Brigid wrote a prequel novella to Storm, and I love Storm more, but it'll give you a feel for the world and chracters. It's called Elemental, and it's seriously only 0.99c on Amazon last time I checked. Give it a go!

      Delete
  16. GUH. SARAH. I think Lisa said it all with, "I have no words.. This review is better than Gabriel wrapped up in a bow."

    I don't know how you bloody do it, but you DO IT. IT. Whatever IT is. I don't have a name for IT, but I can explain it by quoting your entire review back to you.

    Big, echoing, YES to everything, everything, everything you wrote! Gabriel just... wow. I mean, he was sexy and flirty and cocky in Storm and I can't help but NOT fall for that guy in fiction, but when that type of boy has surprising depth and pain and... my heart. It swells. Then explodes. I LOVED the emotional turmoil in this and the relationship with Layne. And Michael. And Hunter. And oh god, Nick :(

    SARAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. MAKE SPIRIT APPEAR. NOW. NOOOOOW *whines*

    P.S I LOVE YOUR REVIEWS.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. AFJHDFAHDGA. BRODIE. Thank yooooooou. Especially from you. With YOUR reviews. And delicious, incredible writering brain and and and... ^__^

      *WAVES WAND* ACCIO SPIRIT... Err... hello, Brigid! It's still in your brain, you say? *pouts*

      I think I'ma whine with you :(

      P.S. I LOVE YOUR YOU.

      Delete
  17. ohhhhmigosh sarah! LOVE THIS REVIEW!! seriously, you make it sound so good... (HOW?!) i cannot wait to get started on spark (thank youuuu netgalley♥)

    gabriel's story sounds like an exciting one(:

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    1. THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS! EMMA! IT'S SOOOOO GOOD! SO GOOD! SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD!

      *SPINS IN CIRCLES*
      *FEELS SICK*
      *REGRETS DECISION*

      It's a FAB book! I so hope you love!

      Delete
  18. I picked this up a while back but still need to read it! I've heard great things and your review just reminds me to get my bum in gear! Need to read this now!

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    1. Thanks, Preet! I so hope you love it. Brigid's an INSANELY good writer, and this is an insanely good book! ♥

      Delete
  19. EEEEh! OMG Sarah, I almost had a heart attack lol! I knew it was going to be Gabriel! OMG he is my baby! and YOu know what made me more so excited with this? The girl's name is like the name my husband calls me, Layne. hahaha. OMG! I think Gabriel is my second marriage.... I really really loved how you describe Gabriel, yes, I had a good glimpse of Gabriel in Storm, but what you said up there is like knowing the real Gabriel, deep. I cant wait to read this book and actually meet Layne and ofcourse finally own my baby Gabriel! hah! :P

    Great great review sarah xoxoxo
    Ƹ̴Ӂ̴ƷFICBOOKREVIEWSƸ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ahahaha! LALAINE! YOUR COMMENT! I DIE! Seriously, if you loved Gabriel in Storm you'll love him even more in Spark. He's a fantastic character, and he's full of so much pain I just wanted to give him a big hug and make it all better! I KNOW you'll love it! ♥

      Delete
  20. Yeah, I pretty much have no words now, but LOVE THIS REVIEW and WANT THIS BOOK and SO EXCITED TO MEET LAYNE.
    Seriously, there are so many characters I love reading about, but wouldn't really want to be BFFs with in real life, but Becca went straight to the top of my "Please be real so I can make you friendship bracelets" list. And from the sound of Layne...I should start picking out new threads. Red and orange and yellow I think. In honour of everyone's favourite pyro.
    Also, you write amazing reviews. Thought you should know.
    xo

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    1. *HUGS*
      eeeee! Thank you! I mean, it's the worst hidden-secret EVER that I ADORE Brigid. I mean, aside from the fact that she may just be one of the nicest people I've ever spoken to, she's an amazing writer! I SO agree with you about Becca! I LOVED this girl, and I really liked Layne. She's a really sympathetic character, YES! SERIOUSLY. I can't wait for you to read it! ♥

      Delete
  21. OO can't read this review yet, I know it will be awesome!!! I am nearly released from the shackles of the bazillion blog tours I set myself on, that have totally consumed all my reading time and reviewing time .....4 months of crazy blog touring....then I can breathe and get back to reading for the pure pleasure and reviewing. I have enjoyed the blog tours, but I signed up for toooooo many!!!! Silly me! I am dying to read this series. 4.5 stars!! YAYA!! I have soooo many awesome books I can finally delve into without stopping to tour. I am officially , well almost officially banning myself from going crazy with blog tours. One a month!! Only 7 for July left!! I want to meet these Merrick bros properly:D:D:D

    Mich

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    1. *hugs* Ugh. It sounds fun but INSANE. That many tours all at once? *is in awe of your super powers* I KNOW you'll love Storm, Mich! *hugs*

      Delete
  22. That's so funny you mentioned Elemental. It was free on amazon like last month and I got it. Now I must read it, so I can finally know if this is a series for me.

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    1. *FIST PUMP* YESSSS! I SO hope you like it, Jen! I seriously LOVE Brigid, and I hope you do, too! She's also quite possibly one of the single nicest PEOPLE (not even authors) on the face of the planet.

      Delete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.

    GABRIEL.GABRIEL.GABRIEL.GABRIEL.GABRIEL.GABRIEL.

    I will patiently wait for this book because I AM ON FIRE!

    EEEEEE SARAH! ME SUPER DUPER CAN'T WAIT FOR SPARK. More Gabriel! Yay!

    LOVE YOUR REVIEW and YOU FOREVER! ;) ♥

    PS: Lol, I had to delete my previous comment because it makes the comments section look messed up after my comment :P

    ReplyDelete
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    1. AHAHAHAHA! CELINE! I think I'm going to delete my review and just replace it with this:

      "SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.SPARK.

      GABRIEL.GABRIEL.GABRIEL.GABRIEL.GABRIEL.GABRIEL."


      THIS! ADAGDF! CAN'T WAIT FOR YOU TO READ! ♥

      Delete
  25. Twins? I like twins.

    Seriously, I'm so stealing these off you. Useless children's cataloguer be damned!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. THAT'S IT. *grabs books* *runs to your house* *knocks on your door* *bounces* READ IT NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW.

      Now?

      Delete
  26. I loved the fact that in Spark we get to see this new side of Gabriel! At first, I was unsure whether I would be able to read a book from a cocky and arrogant character's point of view, but Spark really did blow me away, even more so than Storm!!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You bring out some excellent points! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YESSS! I loved that! There's so much more to him, and so much hurt and depth and OMFG I EFFING LOVE BRIGID.

      Delete

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