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?
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,