Brigid Kemmerer

Elemental, book 2

K-Teen (2012)

ISBN: 9780758272829

Reviewed by Tamara Felsinger

Spark is the second book in the Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer. The first book Storm has done very well in Australia and has just been picked by the popular blogger website Smart Bitches Trashy Books as July’s sizzling book club read. (Link)

Spark is written from Gabriel’s point of view, the bad boy of the Merrick twins. After the chaos from the last few weeks, things aren’t even close to settling down. The Guides are still a threat looming on the horizon and there’s an arsonist in town … which is looking bad for Gabriel considering his element is fire.

As if things aren’t bad enough, Gabriel’s failing math and faces the possibility of being kicked out of his sports teams if he doesn’t start passing. He turns to the smart, quiet Layne in his class for help and discovers she has more in common with him than he first thought.

Like with the first novel, there were cliches and melodramatic situations that will probably have critics picking Spark apart. But again, Kemmerer has written the story in such a way that hits that inner teenage me. It’s a book I would have read in high school and absolutely adored, despite the over-used storyline. I was reading the last part on the plane and had to bite back squeals and giggles, and believe me, there are very few books that spark that reaction in me. (I know. I shouldn’t have done it. But I did.)

I find that Kemmerer does a fantastic job of portraying teenage boys (but that’s coming from a girl – I’d love to hear a boy’s point of view on the subject). In comparison I’m not sure how to feel about Layne. She seems to read Gabriel too easily, and understand where he’s coming from too quickly for a teenage girl. Teenagers’ worlds very much revolve around “self” and I don’t believe she’d stop and think about where Gabriel’s coming from during the times he pushes her away. Also, for someone who’s supposed to be so mature and understanding, she should have figured out the whole, “NOT going to the party her worst enemies invited her to” thing. I mean … c’mon.

That was probably my main problem with the book, but if you love that teenage giggly feeling when reading YA, this series is for you.

A point: Kemmerer uses the term “retard” in the story, which is what the main bullies call Layne’s little brother, who’s deaf. Obviously it’s not used in a positive or throwaway situation, but it’s there. It’s possibly a statement after the internet backlash of another YA novel which used the word, but that time it was by the protagonist and other supposedly “good” characters against their antagonists. If the word seriously offends you, don’t pick up the book, but this is one of many instances where Kemmerer doesn’t shy away from reality in her books, and I think in this case she’s telling it how it is without sending across a bad message.