Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can't. 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. And no one seems to believe 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. . .
Spark (Elemental #2)Featured
OMG = Oh.My.Gabriel!
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).
I wasn’t Gabriel’s biggest fan in Storm. While I wouldn’t say that I disliked him, his seemingly misplaced anger was something that I struggled to understand for most of the book. Fortunately, with Spark Gabriel has become an open book. Embarrassed by his role as the black sheep, the brother who can’t seem to do anything right or without making everything worse, Gabriel is slowing distancing himself from his family. He feels betrayed by their willingness to believe the worst of him, and an aching loneliness at being so emotionally unavailable. This causes him to act out, to inflict harm on them before they can harm him, using his words as weapons. There were so many times when I just wanted to give Gabriel a hug, to hold him close and whisper that everything would be ok and that it wasn’t his fault. When he was vulnerable, he had my heart in his hands. When he was purposely vindictive, I wanted to reprimand him for not trusting his family to have his best interests at heart. Kemmerer did a fantastic job at making Gabriel tortured and angst-filled, without making him pathetic or a mockery.
Actually, Kemmerer did a fantastic job with all of her characters in Spark. It took me a little while to warm up to Layne (I couldn’t be sure of her motivations!), but she has this innocence and subtlety that sneaks up on you. While I wouldn’t call her naive, she has this…goodness about her that makes you want to be a better person; she tried her hardest to see only the best in other people, despite constantly being shown them at their worst. I loved that she had the same defence mechanisms as Gabriel, and that they were able to call each other out on using them. I loved that she challenged Gabriel at every step, and that he was so worried about scaring her away, that she was able to speak openly to him and he had to stick around to listen. I loved that she made Gabriel insecure!
"He’d never given a girl his number and walked off. At the time, it seemed like a great idea – put the ball in her court, leave her with a line and ten digits scrawled in her notebook.
Now it was like water torture, knowing she had it, knowing she was making the deliberate decision not to call.
Christ, was this how girls felt?"
I loved Layne's insecurities, and I loved that she didn’t let them define her. I love that she spoke up for herself, and that she was quick to forgive. And I loved her steamier moments with Gabriel.
"She’d always imagined he would be rough, but he wasn’t. He was gentle, cautious, drawing at her lips in a way that pulled a sound from her throat and made her want to press up against him.
Oh. This was what all the fuss was about."
There’s absolutely no competition in my mind; I ship Gabriel and Layne wayyy more than I ship Chris and Becca.
Spark’s plot was fast-paced and suspenseful, even though it definitely took a backseat to the character development for me. I enjoyed watching Gabriel open up to Hunter, watching him learn how to better control his element, and learning about how all-consuming his affinity for fire could be. I loved the threat the Guides and Becca’s father posed, though I do wish that they had had a bit more of a presence; for an organization that’s supposed to be in charge of removing rogue Elementals, they’re pretty slack about it. Then again, it might have taken away from my Laybriel time, which would have just been a travesty!
If you haven’t already figured it out, I loved Spark. I loved watching Gabriel open up and begin to trust someone with his secrets, I loved falling in love with Layne and I loved falling in love with Layne and Gabriel. The Elementals stuff provided a nice, suspenseful backdrop, and Gabriel’s affinity for fire added a sense of reckless abandon that I found addictive and powerful to watch. A certain betrayal towards the end cut deep, and the damaged relationship between Gabriel and Nick pulled at my heartstrings. An emotional read, Spark is a wonderful addition to the series!
I loved this book from start to finish and ate up every word. While I do love all the Merrick brothers, Gabriel found such a special place in my heart. He really does get put through the ringer in this book. With his brothers all off with their girlfriends he is left to fend for himself most of the time. I really just wanted to wrap him up in a big hug and tell him it would all be ok. While it was nice to see his vulnerable soft side at times lets not forget that Gabriel is a bad boy with a bit of an attitude who can control fire. What's not to like right?
Another character that we meet in this story is Layne's brother Simon. Simon is deaf and has been bullied at school because of it. I loved the interactions between Gabriel, Layne and Simon. The fact that Gabriel doesn't know sign language but gives Simon his phone to type out a text so they can communicate was just so cute and sweet. He really defends Simon against the bullies and tries to help him with his basketball goals. Most of the time Gabriel is such a badass with a bad attitude, it was nice to see this vulnerable sweet side of him. I think it is great that authors touch on these subjects that are real issues in everyday life. I hope we get to see more of Simon in the books to come, I really loved this character.
It is very rare that I find a series where I have to read all of the books one right after the other. Usually I will pick up the first book and then read a few others between it and the second. However, with the elemental series there was no waiting. I read both books and the two novellas right in a row. Now I have to patiently wait for the third in the series Spirit. I can't wait to see what Kemmerer has in store for these characters next. I am sure that it is something that will shock me and leave me wanting more.
Review originally posted on my blog: http://www.ramblingsofabooknerd.com/2013/04/review-spark-elemental-2-by-brigid.html