Monday, August 27, 2012

Spark (Elemental #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Spark (Elemental, #2)Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication: August 28, 2012
By: Kensington Teen
4.75 STARS!

"Feel the heat..."  (OK, sure...*fans face*)

OMG = Oh.My.Gabriel!

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…

Brigid Kemmerer sure knows how to write the *chest clutching* stories and she captures the male POV with the perfect amount of humor, emotion and "posturing". 

It's often said, "Play with fire and you'll get burned." and the same could be said for sequels which often go up in smoke or are reduced to a small ember.  This however, is not one of them.  With it's blazing action, searing kisses and charring suspense, this sequel does not disappoint! (*Virtual cupcakes awarded if you guess the correct number of synonyms I use for "fire" in this review. *winks*)  In my review of Storm (Elemental #1), I mentioned  that Gabriel is the Merrick brother I would've been BFF's with and while that's still true, I would've also been secretly in lurve with him. *sighs*  We get to see a different side to Gabriel in this book; he's not just the wise cracking, snarky jock we met in book one.  Instead, he's angry, frustrated and feels disconnected from his brothers as a result of his ability.  Seems, the very element that lights him up, making him who he is, is also what sparks the rift between them.  

Gabriel isn't a fan of dealing with his anger in ways that don't involve fists or flames and his pride keeps him from asking for the help he so desperately needs.  Surprisingly, for all he has going for him; good looks, great sense of humor and talent, his self-esteem is in the toilet.  The only person who is able to see through his smoke screen is Layne.  She's the smart girl no one pays much attention too unless it's to cut her down.  But Layne is no stranger to fighting fire with fire nor is she a stranger to keeping secrets.  She could be the answer Gabriel never knew he was searching for and he might be able to help her overcome her past.  They'll just have to figure out how to keep from torching each other's hearts in the process. (Words can burn as easily as matches.)

I tend to get attached to book characters and Gabriel is no different. This boy and all he struggles with broke my heart and I don't know that I've ever wanted to hug a fictional character more than him.  Seriously, I wanted to bring him home, feed him cookies and smother him in hugs.  I adored Layne!  She might be small in stature but what she lacks in height she makes up for in courage.  She's not afraid to stick up for the underdog and she's also quick to give people second chances even those who don't deserve them. 

We see more of Michael and Hunter in this book and we're introduced to Hannah, who I thought was a nice addition and made me smile. (She made someone else smile too which was much needed.) I hope she sticks around for awhile. ;)

At the end of the digital ARC is an awesome playlist and a sneak peak of Spirit (Elemental #3). <-- wants now! ;D

To find out more about author Brigid Kemmerer and The Elemental Series, click here.

*POTENTIAL SPOILERS*

This series deals with some pretty tough issues, date rape, bullying (both in school as well as online) but Kemmerer handles them such in a way that is neither dismissive nor cheesey. 

Gabriel has the reputation of being a "player" but I was really happy to see that he and Layne didn't go "all the way". Their scenes definitely had me swooning and fanning my face but there was a sweetness to them too which I enjoyed.  

In this story, Gabriel has a really tough time with math which leads him to take the easy way out and cheat. He doesn't grasp the concepts, reverses the last part of the equation, etc. all of which are signs of dyslexia. (I'm not saying this was Gabriel's problem but I'm familiar with the signs because I have a mild form of it that primarily affects me in the higher level maths.) I could identify with his frustration and feelings of "stupidity" because I spent the majority of my life feeling like a mathematical igit until I was diagnosed my Junior year of college. Thankfully, I had a teacher who cared enough to recognize there was more going on than just my feigned indifference and bad attitude and the same is true for Gabriel's character.  

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