Spark (Elemental #2)by Brigid Kemmerer
To be published by KTeen
on August 28, 2012
Source: e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.
Series report: there are several pages of review and recap near the beginning of the book. No need to re-read!
Series summary: The Elemental series follows the four Merrick brothers: Michael, his twin brothers Gabriel and Nick, and their little brother Chris. Each of them has a special gift that allows them to control one of the elements: earth, fire, air, and water. Storm, book one in the series, featured Chris, who is able to control water. Spark, book two, is Gabe's story.
My thoughts on Storm: Overall, I liked it.
My favorite thing about Storm was the way the set-up reminded me a little of the Outsiders by S.E. Hinton -- though with paranormal elements and amped-up romance. The Merrick boys are orphaned, and they're kept in line by their super-responsible oldest brother, Michael. He reminded me a lot of Darry, the oldest brother in the Outsiders. Like Darry, Michael has given up his carefree youth to look after his brothers and keep his family together. His brothers sometimes appreciate this, but more often than not they get in trouble, often as a result of not being able to control their special abilities.
So while I liked the Elementals concept, there was a love triangle in Storm I wasn't crazy about, and I thought the plot of Storm relied a little too much on violence. There were a whole lot of scenes of people beating each other up, guys attacking the main character, Becca, the brothers fighting with each other, and so on. Looking at the reviews on Goodreads, I can see that this wasn't an issue for most readers, but for me it got to be a bit much. Still, I was intrigued enough that I wanted to read on in the series.
My thoughts on Spark:
In Storm, Gabe was not the most sympathetic character -- and that's putting it nicely. He was particularly hard on Becca, Chris' love interest, in ways that were really unfair. In Spark, we find out more about how Gabe's parents' death affected him and about the enormous burden of guilt that he feels. Gabe excels in sports, and he's really struggling in school. In Storm, he manages by getting his twin, Nick, to take his place during tests. In Spark, there are two small problem with that: 1) Gabe and Nick are feuding and 2) Gabe's new math teacher is wise to the trick.
So Gabe needs a tutor. Enter Layne, the smart girl who wears glasses and turtlenecks. She's suspicious of Gabe, and rightly so. Layne has problems at home, she has a deaf younger brother who's being bullied, she's wearing those turtlenecks to hide something, and she's not taking any of Gabe's crap. I loved Layne, loved Simon, her brother and -- what can I say -- I'm a total sucker for those bad boy/good girl romances. Gabe and Layne sloooowly circle around each other as he tries to get her to trust him.
In Storm, the author had a lot of worldbuilding to squeeze in, but in this book I felt that all that paid off as she could focus more on character development, romance and suspense. Spark seemed much more tightly plotted (including a suspenseful arson subplot) than Storm. My only quibble with Spark was that it magically made one of Layne's problems disappear in a way that seemed unnecessary. Can't say more without spoilers!
If you liked Storm, I think you'll like Spark. If you had mixed feelings about Storm, I still think you'll like Spark.
Please leave me a comment! Have you read Storm or Spark? Or the Outsiders?