Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: Spark

Brigid Kemmerer
Paranormal Young Adult
432 pages
Kensington Teen
Available August 28th
Received from publisher via NetGalley

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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
Spark is a story we enter into expecting to be entertained, the high from our introduction to four very attractive brothers with control over the elements in the first book still lingering despite how much time may have passed since we read it. What we don’t necessarily expect is a far more emotional story than we got with Storm, Spark possessing a more visceral quality to it that has us checking the pads of our fingers for small cuts every so often as the venom Gabriel is so talented at unleashing seems to make the edges of the paper pages that much sharper. Gabriel’s story is challenging and often times frustrating, his temper something both he as well as we as readers struggle with throughout, but the difficulties we all face are what make his tale so rewarding, the rough journey ensuring his footprints on our hearts are in no danger of washing away with the tide of the next book we pick up.

Gabriel is a character who at first glance seems shockingly transparent – the beautiful bad boy who’s likely to take a swing at someone first and apologize never – but as the story continues he becomes increasingly complex, everything we thought we had figured out proving to be but a sliver of a bigger whole. The more time we spend with him, the more we learn to understand the language of his violence, each balled fist and mocking insult telling the person he’s aimed them at that he’s nothing more than a belligerent asshole, but once we know how to read him those same acts of aggression reveal to us small pieces of what he’s truly feeling. Gabriel expects everyone—especially his brothers – to think the worst of him, filtering every innocuous look and gesture through a prism of self-recrimination and guilt where they’re then twisted and distorted by the way he views himself, ultimately reflecting back at people what he believes they already see—someone who’s destined to continually disappoint.

His interactions with Layne in the beginning are colored by the same hostility that marks nearly every communication with older brother Michael, but just as we do, she learns to be observant, recognizing his tendency to deflect anything that resembles real emotion with anger and bloodshed, whether physical or emotional, and calling him on it when it happens. She’s as damaged in her own way as Gabriel is, fire having changed both of their lives irrevocably, and in him she finds a freedom she never expected but has craved from the moment she became less than perfect in her mother’s eyes. Their relationship is the opposite of easy, tiny steps forward made before huge leaps backward send them both reeling, but both continually put in the effort to breathe life into the heat wafting between them, and we have the pleasure of watching as they both try to navigate uncharted territory.

Spark is a stunning second installment, repeatedly causing every muscle in our bodies to tense as Gabriel rarely wastes an opportunity to lash out and draw first blood before rapidly retreating, adding each confrontation to his already impressive collection of perceived screw-ups. We read constantly on edge, waiting for Gabriel’s predictable unpredictability to show itself, but each glimpse is something we can’t help but look forward to, wondering what his latest outburst might reveal to us. Sexier and stronger than Storm, Spark is not to be missed.

Rating: 4.5/5

52 comments:

  1. With your last sentence you hit the mark "Sexier and stronger than Storm, Spark is not to be missed." I couldn't believe it myself since I loved Storm already so much, but what Brigid did with Spark was fanfreaking amazing! Layne and Gabriel are perfect for each other - healing each other and finally becoming the others half to be whole again!

    This was phenomenal!

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    1. I LOVE GABRIEL DANNY! That is all.

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  2. I haven't read the first one so I just skimmed your review, but this sounds like a series I really must read!

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    1. I hope you do! I put off picking up Storm for a long time (I have no idea why, I think I was nervous I wouldn't love it as much as everyone else), but it was fabulous. I loved Gabriel's story more because he was darker than Chris, and I'm always drawn to the darker characters:)

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  3. I so need to read this series. I've read several great reviews of Spark. Hopefully I can pick up Storm soon.

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    1. They're great reads, and Gabriel's story was far more emotional than I was expecting. Loved it:)

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  4. I haven't read Storm but I've been dying to. And this just makes me want it more. UGH. I am a hormonal teenager and I need my hot brothers! =))

    Fab review, Jenny ;D

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    1. Hahahaha YES! Go get the Merrick boys Gellie!

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  5. I'm looking forward to this, I enjoyed Storm (gave t 3/5), and this one sounds even better. Thanks for sharing :-)

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    1. I thought it was fabulous, and I loved that there was no love triangle situation like there was in Storm:)

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  6. i enjoyed storm and can't wait for spark
    gr8 review jenny

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  7. I absolutely loved this one too, so I'm so glad you did too! I to went into it not expecting much from Gabriel because I absolutely adored Chris. But Gabriel surprised me so much in this installment. I think he's quickly become one of my favourites! Lovely review Jenny, can't wait to get more of the Merricks soon! :)

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    1. Gabriel really surprised me as well. He was so frustrating at times with his temper, but once you figured out why he was the way he was, I couldn't help but adore him:)

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  8. This book was great but I liked the first one much MUCH more! I guess I wasn't such a big fan of Gabriel (I liked Chris more) I loved the girl though :)


    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

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    1. Awwww, I'm sorry Gabriel wasn't for you! He definitely will be problematic for a lot of people I think. I'm glad you enjoyed it overall though!

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  9. YESYESYESYESYES!!! I'm SO glad you loved this Jenny!!! I never expected this to be such an emotional story as well :) Loved, loved, LOVED your review Jenny! I can't wait for more Merrick brother's stories :)

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    1. I NEED MORE MERRICK STORIES TOO! So good:) I'm excited for Hunter's story, I just wish we didn't have to wait so long!

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  10. GEEEZZZZZ, I still have to read Storm, you read so fast I cant keep up....LOL. These Merrick brothers must meet me and soon.

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    1. Hahaha I read them on vacation, I was a reading machine:)

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  11. I just got Storm from the library and have yet to find time to read it. Must fix that soon! So glad you enjoyed the second one, which is usually a really hard book to write in a series.

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    1. I agree, normally second books are weaker for me - either nothing really happens and it's all setup for book 3, or the exact same plot formula happens - couple breaks up, new love interest is introduced, etc. Not the case here. I love that each book focuses on a different character:)

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  12. You describe Gabriel's constant struggles in this book and complex character beautifully Jenny! Love!!!!!!!! Fantastic review. Why can't spirt be out already?

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    1. Thanks Rachel! And I'm so ready for Spirit! *stares longingly at calendar*

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  13. I just went and added the first book to my wishlist because honestly, Jenny, this review makes me want to check out the entire series. Especially if this second book is perhaps even better than the first.

    PS. Did you just add new social media buttons or have I been unobservant? Either way: they are gorgeous!

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    1. I enjoyed Storm quite a bit - it was a fun, quick read with some seriously sexy boys. I liked Spark even better though because Gabriel is damaged, and so is Layne, and I just gravitate toward damaged and tortured characters:)

      And the social media buttons are fairly new, the fabulous Danny at Bewitched Bookworms did them for me last week!

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  14. I neeeeed to read Storm so I can get to this one, then! :D I have a thing for tortured characters. ;) That is probably not good in real life though....Ah well. :P

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    1. Probably not in real life no, but in fiction? Bring on the damaged ones!

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  15. Jenny! That review was just brilliant! :D
    I requested the book from NG since like forever, but I still haven't heard back from the publishers. -_-
    I'm very excited to read Spark since Gabriel sounded like an interesting multi-layered character in Storm. I really want to meet Layne too. I can't wait for their interactions!
    I'm glad to hear that this one is even better than Storm, Jenny! :)
    Love the review! :)

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    1. Thanks Nick! I loved Gabriel and Layne together, they were fabulous in my opinion. I loved that Layne refused to let Gabriel walk all over her - she was my kind of girl:)

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  16. OMG Jenny! I loved your review! I enjoyed Gab's story cause it was much darker than what I thought. I can't wait to read about the other brothers!!! Awesome review :)

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    1. Thank you! It was definitely darker, and I loved that about it. And I loved even more that we had no love triangle like we did in book one. It was just Gabriel and Layne and their myriad of emotional problems. So good!

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  17. I'm so excited for this!! Such an awesome series.

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    1. I agree! I can't wait for the next book:)

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  18. Your review makes me want to run out and buy this one NOW!! I haven't read the other one (bad girl) so maybe I'll start there then pick this one up...*sigh of happiness* I love books.

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    1. DO IT MARY!!! You'll love the Merrick boys:)

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  19. Whoa, 4.5 stars?! Yay. I really liked the first book (such a nice surprise!) so I'm really looking forward to this one as well. Awesome review, Jenny.

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    1. I think if you liked the first one, you'll love this one. At least if you like trouble characters - Gabriel doesn't make it easy to like him, but I couldn't help but love him:)

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  20. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one even better than Storm! Gabriel is a character I am dying to get to know more of and I love a good story with a bad boy who is slowly revealed to be so much more. Plus, the romance in this novel seems to be better developed than that of Chris in the previous book, so I'm excited for that. Wonderful review, Jenny! You've made me even more eager to get my hands on this one than before! Gosh, I wish August 28th would just get here already! ;)

    ~Keertana
    Ivy Book Bindings

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    1. I thought the romance in this one was much better - I liked Chris's story, but the romance was split with Hunter and I liked how the Gabriel and Layne were the sole focus of this one:)

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  21. I have no idea why I've been staying away from this series. Now you say this one is even stronger? Plus Gabriel sounds like a character that I would enjoy. What is wrong with me? *puts head on Jenny's shoulder and cries* I don't know why I have't picked up this series yet.

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    1. *clutches you and holds you as you cry* READ THIS SERIES NOW MELISSA! Love it:)

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  22. Love your review! I just recently finished it myself and I loved it. I agree with you that this one was even better than the first. I just want to give Gabriel a hug :-)

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    1. YES! I so wanted to hug him too. He struggled through the whole story and I was just hurting for him!

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  23. It's the first time I have heard about this book..I think. Now where have I been hiding?

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    1. I don't know, but I was late to the Merrick party as well and could kick myself. I just adore this series1

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  24. Jenny, I haven't read Storm yet but I've seen some pretty good reviews for it. You say the sequel is even better and has a bad boy as a MC? Guess I really need to check out this series then!

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  25. Gabriel's predictable unpredictability that is something I haven't heard of. I have read several reviews that say this book is even better than Storm. I need to get on this series. ASAP!

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  26. Woot! I'm glad you enjoyed this! I have Storm waiting for me on my kindle and can't wait to read it soon. It's great to know the sequel is something I can look forward to as well. Fantastic review, Jenny! :)

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  27. "--the beautiful bad boy who’s likely to take a swing at someone first and apologize never--"

    I literally fell in love with Gabriel when I read this line. I've been toying with starting this series--I love brother stories--and now my mind is made up.

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  28. I just got this in the mail today. I am putting everything aside to read it right now! That was an awesome review! You should send it to her! She'd love it!!!

    Heather

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  29. The Merrrrrrick Brotheeeeeeeeersssss! Oh. Em. Swoon! I swear, Jenny. Sometimes it takes me so long to get a clue. I remember vowing to read these book back when Danny gushed about them, but have I? Nope. *slaps self*


    My heart is already wild for Gabe, the unapologetic bad boy. To purposely keep his brothers at arms length...Oh, my! You can tell there is more to him than one would suspect. Love this review. Can't wait to read these books.

    And don't mind me, I'm just trying to catch up on all that I missed around here. :)

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