Title: Spark (Elementals #2)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Gabriel Merrick is an Elemental--he can control and speak to fire. But after his parent's accident, he can't control his powers, but he's always had his twin brother, Nick, to rely on. But after an argument, he finds himself alone, until an arsonist starts setting fires. Everyone points to Gabriel, and nobody believes him except a nerdy sophomore, Layne.
Can I just talk about how eurgh Gabriel looks like on the cover? Eurgh.
While this book had generally higher ratings than the first book, I didn't enjoy this as much. This is more of a personal opinion for me, because I don't particularly enjoy angst-festing. But I'll try to be objective.
From the last book, the brother I was most intrigued with and more interested in was Gabriel. So it was a great choice on Brigid Kemmerer's part to make this book about him. We delve into his personality, and he's very relatable and real: he's snappy and talks without thinking, athletic and he carries more guilt than he should (I mean, perfect guy). His lack of control makes sense too, carrying it over from the previous book, because fire seems to be the wildest of the elements. I like how each of the brother's elements reflect their personalities. Michael, for example, is grounded and responsible and protective, like his element, Earth. Gabriel's lack of control with fire is very well written in this book, his behaviour reflecting his situation with his element.
We also get to see a lot more of his relationship with his twin brother, Nick. In Storm we see Becca's perspective on the brothers, and Chris' which aren't really that different. I mean, he's a little brother, so he would probably judge them both more on their appearances. I love how the twins' complement each other and the explanation of their relationship makes their argument all the more intense.
Then we have our girl, Layne. She's conflicted too, and has a secret. She's a total nerd, and she gets to know Gabriel after she changes the answers on his math test to give him a higher score. They become tentative friends and Gabriel sticks up for her deaf brother, Simon. I did love their sharing and the bond they developed through mutual trust. But my problem was this: While I know the first book was more about Becca then Chris, while this book focuses more on Gabriel, I didn't think Layne was a particularly strong narrator during her POV moments. Her story, while cool and unique, didn't hit an emotional level with me. One of the large problems in her life was her relationship with her parents, but I didn't think that was given enough time to develop. But her brother's disability proved a major point in the book, both for character development with Gabriel and for her.
Okay a major problem I had with this book was that the love story took the centre of this book. In the previous book, a lot fo the plot development involved the story of the Guides and the mythology of the Elemental and Becca's road to discovery. In this book, however, we are already familiar with the mythology and the "major" problem--the arsonist--is mostly ignored until right at the end. And the resolution, while leaving it open for the next book, just fell a bit flat. Also, I was expecting to hear a bit more about Becca in this book, seeing as she was a main character of the last book, but she was hardly mentioned and I find it hard to believe that she would just slip into a relationship with Chris so easily straight after the events of the first book.
So overall, while this book was great for character development for Nick, Layne and Gabriel, many aspects of this book were just disappointing. The action was great as ever, though, and the writing style was appealing as ever.
Grade: A- Great, with problems, but great.