Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

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...

I picked "Storm", the first book in the Elemental series, one evening before an exam, and I couldn't set it down until I reached the very last page. Needless to say, I looked like a confused owl in the morning, but I passed my exam, which is the important bit.

However, while the novel was incredibly engaging, there were things about it that made me uncomfortable, and probably the most prominent was the characterization of Gabriel. I thought he was an insufferable ass, way too quick to judge people and slut-shame, and the resolution of his subplot with MC Becca was unsatisfactory. So when I realized that the second book would be all about him, I was apprehensive.

So you better believe me when I say, this book was a fantastic surprise.

First, the characterization in "Spark" is miles better. In addition to expanding on the Merrick brothers' backstory, it also gives Gabriel some immediate and believable challenges - falling out with his twin, actually studying for the first time in years, becoming an outcast after a series of fires starts in their town and his brothers suspect him. For the first time in his life, Gabriel is left on his own, and he actually grows as a character because he realizes he is strong enough to face change.

Layne, his love interest, was pretty awesome as well (but then again, Becca from Storm was also a badass, so that shouldn't surprise me). I admit, when I first read the blurb, I expected something like "Rules of Attraction" with supernatural powers, but Layne convinced me otherwise within a few sentences of her POV chapter. She has some believable issues going on, and she was well balanced out. Her interactions with her father struck a chord with me - it was the kind of flawed parent/child dynamic we can easily recognize from our teenage years.

Also, huge thumbs up for the positive relationship portrayal here! Layne and Gabriel not only have chemistry, they help each other grow as characters. Gabriel especially became a more considerate guy and that was amazing for me, because in the last book, I was completely disgusted with him.

I'm sorry if I keep comparing the books, by the way, I can't help myself.

While the story itself is imperfect, I think it's a testament to Kemmerer's skills as a writer that she juggles the storylines so skillfully it's never distracting. Once again, I was up until the wee hours of the morning (there were no tests this time, thankfully) unable to rest until I knew what happened in the end. I think it's safe to say that the next book in the series will be great.

Storm and Spark are available on
Amazon , both in the US and the UK. There are also a couple of novellas in the same universe that are out as well, I think. Fans of Cynthia Hand will enjoy this.

** Image and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.

No comments:

Post a Comment