Tag Archive: Kemmerer; Brigid

Mar 21

Review: Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

Spark

You may recall that when I reviewed Storm, the first book in the Elemental Series, I was a so-so fan. And don’t be fooled by this review of the second book coming so quickly after the first.  I’ve read many things in between, and I am just crazily far behind on reviewing things (and crazily busy with all the other things). But I keep reading because in the third book, one of the twins ends up coming out. And so LGBT business and contemporary fantasy being my sweet spot, I’m giving this series a chance to pull me in.

This book follows one of the twins, Gabriel. He can control fire, and is consequently, a hot head. He’s quick to anger, he overreacts to thing, he always sparks conflict, and he’s terribly moody. and temperamental. In other words, a normal 16 year old, but now with control of fire. And this athlete is having trouble because not only is an arsonist going around burning down houses and framing him, but he’s also failing math. Seriously, sometimes the counterpoint of problems in YA books makes me lol.

And because this is paranormal romance, there’s a girl. Layne is the nerdy girl in math who offers to help Gabriel get back on track. Come to find out, Layne comes from a broken home and lives with her dad who is uber wealthy but uber distant. She also has a deaf younger brother named Simon who ends up on the same sportsball team as Gabriel, and Gabriel ends up looking after him and getting him out of scrapes. Because all the villains are kinda one-sided brutes who live to make people’s lives worse. They do terrible things so they must be terrible people, right?

tonepointed

Maybe my tone is pointed, but the bad guys in the Elemental series aren’t nuanced; their high school Bond villains.

And because of the hotheaded nature of Gabriel and the distance of the father, the two end up getting in a fight, making the burgeoning love affair illicit and hidden.

I know from my scoffing at some of the tropes used, it sounds like I didn’t enjoy this book. And that’s not true; I did enjoy it. I just found parts of it to be terribly cliche, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it. Hell, lots of the LGBT fiction that I read is cliche, but I eat like cotton candy. It’s not doing anything for me nutrition wise, but I like the taste in my mouth. And this book didn’t suffer from some of the problems that the first one did. First and foremost, no problematic rape storyline (although their intimate moment does end up kinda setting a barn on fire and healing Layne of her childhood burn scars [what?]). Also, Kemmerer isn’t trying to do so much series exposition all at once. I didn’t notice this about the first book until I had finished the second one, but Kemmerer put a lot of exposition on the table: all four brothers, romantic female lead, best friend character, new kid in town character, bad guys, teachers, and building a world for this magic type paranormal activity to exist. No wonder the narrative suffered a bit. With a bit less to do at once, this story is strengthened due to its more singular focus.

Oh, and I love a good deaf character. Way under-represented in literature, and there should be tons more.

JMF Rating: 6/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF

Mar 05

Review: Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Storm

Sometimes, you’re just looking for a little light reading to get you through the night. And sometimes, the story becomes just intriguing enough that you end up staying up all night finishing it. So it was with the first (-ish) book in the Brigid Kemmerer Elemental Series, Storm. The premise of the story is that everyone in the world sits somewhere on an emotional layout of a pentagram. Each of the points on the outer edge represent a primal element (earth, wind, water, fire, and heart). When people are born that are near one of the points, then they have a higher affinity for that element and gain special powers.

And there’s a family of people with special powers in town, but they don’t want anyone to know about it. They’re trying to keep a low profile, though it’s hard when you’re all beautiful people and your parents are dead and you all live together in a house a ways from town. But because they’re all so powerful, their emotions are on edge all the time so there’s lots of angsty fighting and threats and moments of brooding.

The story follows Becca, your average girl leaving a self defense class who decides to help out a guy that she barely knows who is getting beaten up in the parking lot. Turns out its a rival gang of other elemental teenagers, and they want to rumble.

Rumble

There’s a little less snapping, but you get the idea.

Well Becca takes the fight loser, Chris Merrick, home. Turns out Chris is a water-type, so he’s calm and deep. So this attracts Becca, but there’s all sorts of other drama getting in the way. Like school. And a best friend that needs constant attention (seriously, there’s some single white female codependency moments). And a new kid in town with an awesome dog who is kind and sensitive and not attached to a crazy group of elementals. And house parties where every stares at you because of your big secret.

And it’s not that any part of the story is bad, it’s just that everything even slightly suspenseful is telegraphed WAY early. Like the mysterious guy who hunts down the most powerful elementals so that they can’t harm people just happens to show up in town the same as Becca’s father turns up. Hmmm. Also, the nice guy with the dog turns out to be a little crazy kinda out of the blue because it becomes convenient for the climax of the plot.

I probably didn’t enjoy this as much because I am certainly not in the target age group (I’m thinking probably early teens here), and I am not of the target gender (most definitely female).

OH HELL! I just remembered what really bothered me about this book (it’s been a few weeks since I finished it). So Becca had this reputation for sleeping with the entire soccer team because she got tore up at a team outing and they, well, kinda had an implied gangbang (or sex with a single person with a large audience). And if that’s your thing, more power to you, but it was not Becca’s thing. She gets a bad reputation, but once she has re-found her inner power, she starts re-spreading the story that it wasn’t a gangbang, it was rape. And once that story gets out, the same guys try to rape her for real to make it true. A real big disgusting situation.

Okay, here’s the deal: don’t arbitrate rape in the social sphere. That’s why there are police, rape crisis centers, and numerous other support services available to people. If your consent level changed in the middle of sex, and you saw no way out, there are avenues for people to get help. But the rape storyline of Becca finding her voice in this reads more like “you ruined my reputation, well fine, I’ll ruin yours.” But she doesn’t turn him in to the authorities. So it’s hard to see if this is her true story, or her being manipulative to win back her reputation. And I find that really problematic. In these sorts of cases, the impulse is to always side with the victim, but I’d rather side with the truth. And there isn’t a lot of clear cut truth to be had here. If she is the victim, cut his balls off. If she’s changing her story because she doesn’t like the optics of her story, then that is even more troubling.

Anywho, the book was okay for an evening read, but don’t feel pressured to go out and buy it.

JMF Rating: 5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF