Release Date: 08/28/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
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…
My thoughts on the book:
Let me just start off by saying that I really enjoyed this book. Spark is an excellent follow-up to Storm, and I loved getting to know Gabriel better. That being said, Nick really irritated me in this novel, and there were times when I just wanted to beat him in the head with my shoe. I've also firmly decided that I hate Quinn with an intense passion and hope she gets killed off very soon. Other than those two things, Spark is amazing. It's non-stop action, and just like with Storm, the story ended too soon. After the pages ran out, I still wanted more of the world Kemmerer created. I'm definitely looking forward to Spirit, which comes out in June of NEXT YEAR. I may die before then.
For me, Gabriel's story is much more emotional than Chris'. He is going through so much, and his own twin even seems to be against him. Of course, Nick is only against Gabriel because of Quinn. I do not like Quinn, but Nick's choosing her over his own brother seems pretty realistic for how most teenagers behave. With Nick out of the way, Gabriel at least got to learn who he was on his own, and that made for an interesting story. Nick redeems himself a bit in the end, but I really hope that if he gets his own book, then Quinn is already killed off or they're broken up by then. I will not be able to read an entire novel about that girl. She's horrible.
Anyway, moving on... Spark has a raw emotional feel to it, and because of that, I couldn't help but feel sympathy for Gabriel. He never came across as whiny, just resigned to his fate. Gabriel grows a ton in this story. I could relate to his hatred of math, so I immediately felt some connection with him. I also felt a connection to Layne because my middle name is Lane and my mom calls me that a lot. Layne is an intelligent, albeit purposefully plain girl, which means she's totally not Gabriel's type. He starts off being really rude to her, but once he gets a glimpse of who she really is, he slowly begins to warm up to her. It's really endearing seeing the two of them break down each others' defenses. I feel like their relationship was a bit more natural and moved at a better pace than Chris' and Becca's did.
Seeing what goes on in Gabriel's head and seeing how he is with Layne really shows what a good person he is. It also illustrates how much self-hatred he has. That broke my heart for him. This book is about Gabriel finding his way, though, and throughout the course of the novel, he learns to accept himself. He also finds his path in life. The ending made me so happy because I felt Gabriel really finds his calling in life. Things are left a bit open-ended, though. He still has to find the confidence to go after what he wants.
One of the things that I loved about Spark was that I had no idea who the bad guy was. I could not figure it out for the life of me. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I'd be like, "well no, that doesn't make sense. How could that person do that?" It's very rare that an author has me completely confused about who is behind something, but Kemmerer managed to keep me clueless for the entire book. These surprises also set up Hunter's book quite well.
There is a lot of action in this book, but not as many fights, which is surprising because this is Gabriel's book. The action has more to do with Gabriel's element, and his attempts at learning to control it, than anything else. Most of the parts are not half as dramatic as Storm, but they're still just as captivating. The pacing is perfect, and everything happened at a natural pace. I was definitely hooked throughout the entire novel, and I didn't get bored once. Also, Kemmerer still has the same anti-bullying messages placed subtly into the narrative, but the message is never overpowering. I think it's wonderful that she's keeping that as a part of the series. Stuff like that needs to be brought to the forefront more often.
Overall, I'd recommend Spark to anyone. It doesn't suffer from second-book-syndrome like many second books do. It's an intense and emotional read, and the world, characters, and plot are just as captivating as the first book's are. Kemmerer is well on the way to becoming a powerful voice in YA literature. You won't want to miss the second installment to the Elementals series.
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