Review Blog

Nov 15 2012

Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

cover image

The Elementals Book 2. Allen and Unwin, 2012. ISBN: 9781743310748.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. The first book of the Elemental series, Storm, came out in May. This second book, Spark, was recently published in October, and there's a third planned for next May. Kemmerer also writes novellas, a trend that has become very fashionable - short stories that fill in gaps, or that come before, or sometimes even years later. So far, I have found three of these. They are only published in digital format, and appear to have been originally free. You can find them on websites such as Amazon.
The Elemental series is the story of four brothers. They are each able to harness a different elemental power: Michael, the oldest, channels Earth; the twins, Nick and Gabriel, manipulate air and fire respectively; and the youngest, Chris, needs water for his power. They are very strong and must be watched and controlled. Other lesser Elementals want them destroyed, but their parents made a deal which kept them alive. Unfortunately the deal didn't save the parents, who are dead by the time we meet the Merrick boys in the first book, which had Chris as the main focus. Spark gives readers Gabriel's story.
It seems predictable to make this character fiery and out of control, but it works extremely well exactly because it's what we expect. Although Gab is unruly, undisciplined, and just plain angry, it's also easy to sympathise with him because he feels responsible for the death of his parents. His twin faced death (in the resolution of book one), he is almost failing Maths, and all of a sudden his world no longer feels safe or trouble-free. His character is beautifully realised.
When Gabriel comes to know Layne and a growing mutual attraction begins, this relationship is teased out slowly and realistically. The best feature of these books is that Kemmerer grounds the paranormal in a very contemporary world. Her descriptions of the everyday are strong: Michael tries to feed and parent his brothers, bullies pick on Layne's deaf younger brother, and Hunter is jealous of Chris and Becca's relationship.
I look forward to learning more about Hunter and Nick and continuing to follow Gab, Chris, and Michael. I cross my fingers that the females continue to be feisty and independent, and I hope somewhere down the track these brothers learn to relax and appreciate what's left of their family. Right now it seems unlikely. Highly recommended for secondary students who enjoyed books such as The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare and the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand.
Trisha Buckley

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