Spark by Brigid Kemmerer
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. 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.
Gabriel is not a likeable guy. In fact, he’s a hotheaded jerk most of the time. I’m not sure how he gets away without getting slapped constantly. After alienating himself from his own brothers, the only one who can break through his tough exterior is quiet girl named Layne who offers to help him with Math. Layne is a stereotypical, mousy, geeky girl who tries to hide behind glasses and turtlenecks. And she and her younger, deaf brother are constantly bullied. When Gabriel stands up to the bullies, Layne begins to see a different side to him. Meanwhile, Gabriel forms a surprising friendship with Hunter who pushes Gabriel to practice his ability to manipulate fire. But in doing so, the boys put themselves in danger.
Spark is a well-paced, exciting sequel that I enjoyed even better than the first in the Elemental Series. Gabriel is a bad boy who really surprised me. He’s still a hothead who doesn’t think before he speaks, but I love how the author developed this character and let him evolve throughout. I’m excited to see what Kemmerer does with the other young men in future installments. This urban fantasy for young adults has plenty of suspense, drama, angst, and sweet romance. An overlying story arc that started in Stormcontinues and leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger that will leave readers excited for the next in this riveting and thrilling series.