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Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Spark (Elemental #2)
by Brigid Kemmerer

Spark (Elemental #2)

By: Brigid Kemmerer

Release Date: August 28, 2012

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary: 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…

 

Review:

I have a confession to make. I’ve just done something I thought I would never do – I enjoyed a book with no plot. And now that I think about it, it was really easy too, Spark isn’t any worse for wear without the token villain, the conflict between good and evil, or any of those other pesky elements that unnecessarily bog down good storytelling. Instead, Brigid Kemmerer has somehow managed to carry her second Elemental book solely on the strength of a single character. I am thoroughly impressed.

Actually, guys like fire, it’s really that simple. We picked Charmander even though it’s no good against Brock’s Onix because Charizard is just that darn cool. And Kemmerer obviously knows a thing or two about it, because Spark perfectly captures the appeal of that explosive power as a unifying theme throughout the book, from Gabriel Merrick’s character to his firefighting escapades to his relationship with Layne Forrest, really in a way that Storm didn’t. I don’t like douchey characters, and not just because I want to corner the market on douchiness, but I’ll make an exception for Gabriel, because he’s written in a way that realizes the anger and frustration that’s in all of us. As the brother always pegged to fail, yes he has a lot of problems, yes he lashes out at the wrong people at the wrong time, but the way Kemmerer captures his guilt for his parents’ death, his inability to do anything right, his sheer frustration, I’m amazed at how complex and multidimensional his character is, with everything right there, simmering just below the surface waiting to boil over.

With a character like Gabriel, sometimes you just want to watch things burn. An even though there’s no movement with the point of the series, the Elementals versus Guides conflict, until the twist ending, all because the Merricks decide early on in the book to lay low, Gabriel using his ability and saving people from fires started by a mysterious arsonist kept me plenty entertained. I read the acknowledgements (again), so I know the amount of research Kemmerer put into the fire scenes, but even if I didn’t, I’d say she perfectly captures the volatile rush, the searing heat, the scorching flames, everything about a fire (ok, calm down, I’m not a pyromaniac, I promise, maybe). But for anyone who likes watching little flames dance around or gets a rush from watching an inferno just go for it, it’s all really cool, and more importantly, completely fits with Gabriel’s character, something good the mess up can actually do right. I only wish there’d be one or two more fire scenes just to keep up the flow of the story at times, but oh well.

The most surprising thing for me, though, is how Kemmerer manages to juggle all these different characters without me feeling like any of them got lost in the shuffle. There’s an scene at the beginning with all the Merricks plus Becca and Quinn that feels like too many chefs spoiling the broth, but beyond that, everyone gets their moment, so to speak. There’s Michael and how he has to deal with the deaths of the Merrick parents, Nick showing he’s got future plans, even Hunter dealing with his dad’s death in a strangely fitting and parallel way with Gabriel. Less Chris and Becca, but they got a whole book already. Which gives Layne room to shine too, because I ended up liking her way more than Becca. Even if a lot of her character and story feels like Becca 2.0, her trouble with her parents, her unpopularity at school, the way her relationship unfolds with another Merrick, her character is a way more interesting foil for Gabriel than Becca was for Chris. So sure, it’s all filler, but the characters do a more than decent job making up for it.

I hate to say it, but Spark really doesn’t have much of a plot. What it does have, though, is some serious character development which at this point more than makes up for the lack of any real conflict. For anyone who’s ever felt the call of fire, answer it. Read Spark.
Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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  1. September 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    great review! i have been toying with the idea of reading the series…despite liking your review cant make my mind up if i should.Whats your advice?

    • September 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      You can if you have time. I have to warn you though the plot is not really different for your typical paranormal, although the characters are interesting.

    • Katy
      September 18, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      *cough* first book is better *cough*

  2. September 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    No this one is better. Gabriel > Chris, Layne > Becca, if this was the first book I’d have rated Storm a 3.

    • Katy
      September 18, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      No way! Gabriel was NOT better than Chris. Too angsty. I’ll give you Layne was better than Becca though.

      BUT didn’t you feel like Book 2 was just another version of Book 1? Same storyline. :/

      • September 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm

        A better version of the same storyline. Which is why I said I’d give Storm a 3 had I read Spark first.

  3. September 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I’m not sold enough to buy it… seems like I’ll have to inter-library loan it as my library system doesn’t carry it. I am intrigued enough to want to read it.

    • September 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      That’s probably a good idea to see if you like it, sure hope you do.

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