Series: Elemental #5
Published by Kensington Teen on September 30, 2014
Pages: 324 pages
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Michael Merrick is used to pressure.
He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it out for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way.
His girlfriend, Hannah, gets that. She’s got a kid of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could end her life without a moment’s notice.
But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s “bad luck.” Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.
They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. There will be blood on the ground tonight…
No spoilers if you haven’t read this series yet. Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer brings everything full circle in the final installment of the Elemental series. I’ve always had a soft spot for Michael, the responsible oldest Merrick brother, and it’s great that we finally get his story after seeing him take care of his brothers for the past couple of years.
As with the titular Secret, sacrifice is a big theme in this book as the boys suffer life-changing losses, both physical and emotional. Michael’s on his own for much of the story, as he’s literally isolated himself from his brothers and his girlfriend Hannah after an explosive opening chapter. View Spoiler »Explosive. Hee hee. « Hide Spoiler
I love Michael’s strength, I love his steadfast loyalty, and I love that he looks past what people aren’t saying to understand what they really mean. As always, I also love the scenes when the boys use their powers to harness the force of nature–you can practically see lightning split the sky and trees uprooting in the fantastically visual battle scenes, and the mixed emotions in Chris’ feelings towards Hunter, whom he still regards as a dangerous interloper, feel very believable.
I had some rather mixed emotions about the book overall, however, as there’s less humor, emotional commitment, and swoony romance than I’d hoped for. I liked Michael’s love interest in the previous installments, but Hannah’s not nearly as kickass-interesting here as you’d expect a young, firefighter single mom might be. I also wished we’d seen more interactions between Michael and her son James, because one of the great things about seeing this series evolve has been taking it from YA teenagers to characters that are New Adult age who are dealing with real adult issues. But instead, we’re stuck in another diversionary obstacle with a half-hearted maybe-triangle. View Spoiler »Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for caring, hot African-American firefighters, but we all KNOW this is isn’t gonna happen. It’s Michael. No one’s measuring up to that guy. « Hide Spoiler
When you have a series in which each book follows a different character’s POV, I think it’s also really important that each narrative reveals something about the character that we didn’t already know. Fair or not, it’s especially important if it’s a character we’re very familiar with or care a lot about. This is where I think both Nick and Michael’s stories fell a bit short–the plots are solid, yes, the characters are as wonderful as we expect them to be, yes. But we don’t really get to know them any better, either through their actions or their thoughts, so we come out of each book with exactly the same feeling about them as we did before. The action may be ramped up, but what I want is for the emotional stakes to be higher. With Gabriel’s and Hunter’s stories, you get that element of surprise/suspense because it’s hard to predict what will happen, and you’re so much more in love with the characters when the stories end than when they began.
I know I listed a lot of criticisms of this particular book, but it’s because I’ve become so invested in this series and these characters that I had hoped for a better conclusion for them–and it’s still a strong 3.5 star book to me. While I half-hope that we’ll get more Merrick brothers stories down the road because I love them and want to find out what happens to them, I also wish this installment had just ended things in a completely satisfying way, not only because there’s only so much that can be done to create more drama View Spoiler »their HOUSE blows up in this one, where do you go from there? « Hide Spoiler, but because I think it’d also be interesting to see new stories from this author. We also seem to be getting farther away from the core characters as the series goes on, and the interaction between the Merrick brothers has always been one of my favorite things about these books.
This is still a really great series overall, though. My favorite installment is definitely Spark, though I also really like Spirit and Storm, and I’ll go to my grave talking about how Brigid Kemmerer nails authentic male voice, writes such chemistry-laden romance, creates dialogue and text speak that sparks, and describes paranormal powers in such an awe-inspiring way. While I may not have been as enthralled by the last couple of books as I was with the earlier installments and novellas, they’re still very fun books and I’d highly recommend them for fans for paranormal romance.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
Incidentally, it looks like all of Brigid’s previous books are on sale for Kindle right now, so you can get all four of the previous novels for less than $13 if you haven’t tried them yet! What a bargain.