Paranormal Young Adult
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…
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.