Synopsis from Good Reads:
Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally. Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. 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. And no one seems to believe him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Because Layne has a few secrets of her own…
Spark is the second book in the Elemental series and it did a good job of avoiding the sophomore slump. While I didn’t like it quite as much as Storm, it was interesting and built upon the Elements and the Merrick family.
This time we focus on Gabriel, my previously least favorite Merrick brother. In Storm I thought he was basically just annoying, but seeing things from his POV makes him more sympathetic and relatable. I was still a little annoyed by him at times, but overall really like him. The other perspective we get is from Layne, a girl in his math class that helps him out. Like Becca, she’s a bit of an outcast. But she’s kind and funny and doesn’t take Gabriel’s crap.
Layne also has a little brother who is deaf. My mom works with the deaf and hearing impaired so I’m always interested to see how deaf characters are treated in fiction. I felt like it was a pretty realistic portrayal. People incorrectly assumed Simon was retarded because of his speech, but he’s really just a normal kid, trying out for basketball and dealing with his parents divorce. I liked his interactions with Gabriel and the other Merrick brothers.
I liked that there were more positive developments in Michael and Gabriel’s relationship, but I wish we would’ve seen more of the Merrick brothers all together. We mostly only saw Chris and Nick when Gabriel was fighting with them. (And I hated that Nick was always with Quinn, who I basically hate.) I also didn’t like that Becca was almost non-existent in this book. I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate when series focus on a different person (or couple) each book and the original ones we fell in love with kind of fall by the wayside.
I also liked Hunter a lot more in this book. I liked his bromance with Gabriel. We are left with some unanswered questions about him towards the end of the book that I hope gets resolved soon – and I hope the bromance survives.
I felt like I got a little better understanding in this book in how the Elements speak to the Elementals. I find it interesting that unlike most books that deal with nature being peaceful, this series shows the potential of damage and chaos the elements can cause- and seem to want to cause. I also liked the plot developments that promised more insight into the Elemental politics to come in future books.
Overall I enjoyed Spark. The character development of Gabriel was great and I enjoyed his growth, but also his sarcastic humor. (“Then I’m going to need another fifteen minutes.”) I would recommend this book to those who have started the Elemental series and to those who enjoy YA sci-fi/fantasy.