Sacrifice (Elemental #5) by Brigid Kemmerer: review

August 27, 2014 2014, 3.5 star books, brigid kemmerer, paranormal, Wendy 49 ★★★½

Sacrifice (Elemental #5) by Brigid Kemmerer: reviewSacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #5
Published by Kensington Teen on September 30, 2014
Genres: paranormal
Pages: 324 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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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 »

Sacrifice Brigid Kemmerer

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 »

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 », 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.

Real, no shit spoiler for Sacrifice (Don’t come crying to me if you click this and you don’t want to know!): View Spoiler » *sigh*

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.

Wendy signature teal



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.


brigid kemmerer elemental series


49 Responses to “Sacrifice (Elemental #5) by Brigid Kemmerer: review”

  1. Holly U

    I think I’m leaning toward a 3.5 rating too. It pains me to say this, but Sacrifice was my least favorite book in the series. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did! I just was hoping for something, I don’t know, more than what I got. I loved having Michael’s POV, but I found myself not enjoying Hannah’s as much. It wasn’t like she was a terrible character; I just don’t think I ever warmed up to her (I was always eager to get back to Michael’s POV). And I was expecting an epic showdown, but I felt like everything was rushed and hurried and I didn’t even have time to process said spoiler in your review. But I absolutely love Brigid’s writing; she can manage to make me laugh and cry all on the same page. And I love how great she is at developing characters and their relationships with each other! I loved those quiet bonding moments between the boys and how tight they are as a family, even with the addition of Hunter. Those were some of my favorite parts of the book.

    I still enjoyed this book, and I’d love it if she continued the series. I don’t think I’m quite ready to say goodbye to the Merricks and Hunter.
    Holly U recently posted…Cover Reveal: The Ghost of You by Amanda Burckhard

  2. Alexa S.

    Oh, Michael Merrick! I loved Michael, and have since the very beginning of the series. He’s just a great big brother, and a great guy, and it’s so easy to love him. That being said, I agree with a lot of the things you’ve pointed out in this interview. I would have wanted more character development + romance, too. But still such a solid ending to this series! (PS – Your spoilers made me laugh and cry.)
    Alexa S. recently posted…I Shall Be Near To You – Erin Lindsay McCabe

  3. Rachel

    I have enjoyed this series, and a lot of fun with the first couple of books. I had a lot of issues with Spirit, so I was less enthused to pick pick the next books. Now I’m a book behind. Maybe someday. Glad to see you enjoyed this overall. Wonderful review, Wendy!
    Rachel recently posted…Review: Shatter by Erin McCarthy

  4. Vivien

    This was certainly one of those series that I was hesitant to start. Typically, I don’t go for this kind of thing. However, after reading your review, followed by numerous others, I was convinced to try it. Once I did, I was glad. I really did end up enjoying everything I’ve read so far. While I am slightly bummed you didn’t enjoy this more (mainly because it’s almost as if this was the pentacle of the series arc), and yet I’ve been given hope. At least you didn’t end up regretting reading the series or this book. With series enders, we just aren’t ever sure. And that can be the worst moment of a reading experience. I’m still quite eager to read this one!

  5. Boyanna

    Oh, this was so tease inducing now i cant wait to read the book. I have high hopes for this one, and you made me a little anxious, I will have to lower my expectations.
    I share your opinion that Nick’s book wasn’t as good as its predecessors, but i still love the world this author created.
    Boyanna recently posted…[readalong] THE RAVEN CYCLE BY MAGGIE STIFVATER

  6. Carina Olsen

    Amazing review Wendy :D I’m so glad you enjoyed this book. <3 Hmm. I have not read this series. But I might one day, as you loved them all :D They do look pretty awesome. <3 Thank you for sharing sweetie :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #148

  7. Larissa

    I’m actually reading this one right now c: Just finished that explosive first chapter hehe. Seeing the rating actually doesn’t shock me though, my favorite book in this series has got to be Spark and the last book in the series didn’t really live up to my expectations. While some may think the romance is their favorite part of the series it may actually be my least as some of the love interests have annoyed me instead of me enjoying their POVs.

    I still love this series and all of the interactions between the characters, just feeling like something is missing. Still, I hope this one manages to weave its way into my heart even if you didn’t enjoy it the most.

    Series enders really are tough and tend to be quite bittersweet. The fact this one is open makes me feel a bit iffy though. I’m not a really huge fan of open endings when it comes to series endings just because after all of the books you’ve really become close to the characters and usually want more closure regarding their lives.

    I totally agree with you on authentic male voices, Brigid definitely has though down pat. Every time I read a POV from the Merrick brothers I know it’s just that and it always comes out so organic and most definitely not contrived. I also love seeing the action scenes which just seem to come straight from the movies. I can always picture them so vividly and the elemental powers are always wonderful to see in action.

    Lovely review Wendy! (:
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Isla and The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

    • Wendy Darling

      GOOD GOOD GOOD, I really want to hear what everyone else thinks of this. 3.5 stars is very good for me, especially since I’ve rated all the books between 3.5 and 4 stars, my scale just doesn’t go up that high for paranormal romance in most cases.

      I hear what you’re saying on the romance front, too. My favorite romance is definitely Gabe and Layne’s–I liked the chemistry between Nicky and Adam and Hunter and Kate, but I wasn’t all INTO it the way I was in SPARK, and I didn’t love the other girls at all. As it happens, Layne’s and Kate’s POVs are also the only female ones I really liked in the series, so I really could have lived without the others. I got impatient with Becca’s POV (and a little bit with Adam’s),and didn’t really feel like their narratives added much to the stories. It felt like they were just slowing things down, and I just wanted to get back in the boys’ heads.

      I love that you love everything about this series that I do! I still really like and would recommend this series, too. Enders are really tough–I’ve definitely learned to temper my expectations after feeling somewhat let down by some of my favorites, and in fact, I think it’s much rarer for series enders to completely wow/satisfy me, which is kind of sad. This one wasn’t a huge, huge disappointment, though–it’s a good Michael story for the most part, I just wanted a little more from his arc, and then wanted more of an oomph AND MORE TIME with the Merrick brothers if we’re really going to say goodbye to them. Maybe that’s part of the problem, though, in somehow thinking that the stories might be revisited someday–I don’t always mind an open ending, but you’re right, when it comes to series finales, we need some emotional closure.

      Look forward to your review, Larissa!

    • Wendy Darling

      Since you read a lot of adult romance, I bet you’ll like this series, Layla. It’s fun without making you think too hard. And yes, those prices are too good to last for long!

    • Wendy Darling

      You have to try this series sometime, Jeann! Apparently she’s very popular in Australia, hah.

      And yes, the stories center around the Merrick brothers, who each have a different power–one can control fire, one can control water, etc, etc. (She dose a really great job of making the scenes where they use their powers feel real and full of tension.) Each book is mostly from the POV of each one of the brothers, although there is one from their friend Hunter’s POV and each book also has some scenes that are from the love interest’s POV. You can read the books without reading the novellas, by the way–they are good/add to the overall arc, but don’t feel like you have to. Some people are scared off/think the series is longer than it is because there are so many novellas as well.

  8. Faye D'Social Potato (@kawaiileena)

    Oh, man, Wendy. I just read your review and I feel so conflicted now. Like you I am SO invested in this series. Sure, the Merrick brothers and I had our ups and downs (okay, fine, the Merrick brothers’ love interests… I don’t know why but save for Kate almost all of them annoyed the hell out of me!) but I just loved this series as a whole, and I was looking forward to Sacrifice SO, SO, SO, SO, MUCH… that a 3.5 rating from you is making me very, very nervous. Is that even logical?! Hopefully I read this and have a far more positive experience (it’s the finale, isn’t it? I kind expect nothing less than a 5 star read from such installments! Haha).
    Faye D’Social Potato (@kawaiileena) recently posted…Potato Strip #1: Blog Name

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh Faye, don’t let my response/rating worry you. You probably know that I’m stingy with my stars anyway, and my 3 favorite Elemental books have all been 4 strong stars, and my two least favorite have still been 3.5. So take that into account, for what it’s worth?

      I hear you on the love interests, though. I forgot, I really liked Kate as well, and I liked Layne. But I haven’t been all that keen on the other girls either, for some reason I like the way the author writes boys a lot more than I like her girls. So weird. I also don’t love the passages from their POV–with the exception of the two girls I mentioned, I was more impatient with the feminine POV in the other stories, from what I remember.

      But like I said, don’t worry! It’s still a very good book, and I still love the series. I always hope for a “wow” series finale that blows me away and feels emotionally satisfying, but it’s also hard to do that and satisfy every reader. I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy it, and in fact, I’m pretty sure you will. I’ll be on the lookout for your reaction!

  9. Lisa (Fic Talk)

    I love how this review shows how emotionally invested you are to this series like myself and my co-blogger. We’ve spent many nights and days texting each other while reading the books because it was just so fun. I’ve had a soft spot for Michael since his opening novella, which I ADORED. He’s had it a lot harder than the other boys so I’m expecting his book to have that “responsible adult” element to it.

    I need to start this soooon.

    And btw, Spark was what really made this series a red-hot read for me, too. Hee. :)
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    • Wendy Darling

      So fun that you and your co-blogger are close enough to text about books! Always awesome to fangirl over stuff with friends who get it.

      I need to go back and reread Michael’s novella at some point–it’s been so long, and I’m curious to see how it all connects together. Michael is such a fantastic character–I’d want to have a brother just like him.

      And hah, SPARK sparked for us both! Heeeeeeeeeee.

  10. Jen @ YA Romantics

    I read the first two or three of these and found the whole “houseful of brothers” thing so fun. Michael also might be my favorite of the brothers, so I’m sorry that you didn’t absolutely love his book. But I look forward to catching up on these one day!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics
    Jen @ YA Romantics recently posted…Trending Thursday: Liars

    • Wendy Darling

      So fun, right? Boys falling all over the place, what’s not to like? :D

      I may not have loved the way the series ended overall, but I do love Michael and the plot is engrossing. Hope you’ll enjoy Michael’s story when you get to it, Jen!

    • Wendy Darling

      Melliane! It’s been a year since those books winged their way to France. I insist that you try them out as soon as humanly possible. I’m quite sure you’ll enjoy them.

    • Wendy Darling

      She does! And she even makes texting flirty and fun. I normally hate it when characters text in books (SO DULL and annoying, especially if they’re skipping vowels and such), but she does a great job with it.

  11. Pili

    I’ve heard some of the same complains about this book as the ones you’ve listed, paramount of all the wishy washy, not entirely satisfying or with enough closure sort of an ending… It sort of puts me off the whole series a bit to be honest and I’ve been on fence about it a while. Maybe now that it is on sale as a bundle… who knows!
    Thank you for a fantastic and totally spoiler free review, Wendy!!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #57!!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh no, please don’t let my review (or any others) of this last book put you off the series! It’s so much fun, and you’ll like the Merrick brothers a lot. You know how sometimes you become so invested in a series that sometimes the series ender just isn’t what you hoped, so that becomes a disapointment? That’s sort of what happened here, although it’s still a solid story, and overall the series is really fun. I hope you’ll give the first couple of books a try at least!

  12. kimbacaffeinate

    Wendy, I haven’t read this series..I came late to the YA world aside from Potter and Twilight and the books my teen daughters were Eragon, Crank etc and I have always felt like I am really missing out when I read reviews. I need to treat myself to this series.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Painted From Memories by Barbara Forte Abate

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh Kimba–you have to read these! They are so, so fun, and the boys are funny and super cute. It’s definitely a YA series, but in some ways, the powers and the boys act like adult urban fantasy characters, so I think it’s a good series for adults to try.

  13. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Book number five seems to be as difficult to work with as number two in a trilogy so 3 1/2 stars isn’t a bad thing at all! I didn’t love the first book for some reason (probably wasn’t in the mood. That’s what I get for being a mood reader!) but I might have to give this series another shot — love when the author nails a male voice and can really bring the chemistry.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: Bring the guns! Bring the nips!

    • Wendy Darling

      Fives do seem to be hard for some reason–but yeah, it’s still a good/solid book, it just wasn’t quite the series ender I wanted for everyone. *sigh* Book two is where I really fell for this series, so I hope you’ll give it a try sometime! Also the swooniest of the books, imo. Ahem.

  14. Liv_The Absent Historian

    I read the first one and was not entirely blown away by Becca as a MC and the story. However, I am willing to give Spark a chance. It is kind of annoying that the characters in the last two do not get more developed about them because that is an element that I really like about series that change povs. Glad to see you still enjoyed this one though!
    Liv_The Absent Historian recently posted…The Blue Blazes

    • Wendy Darling

      You know, I was never a big fan of Becca’s either, and Chris (the first book’s main narrator) is the youngest of all the Merricks, and therefore a bit less interesting. I actually think the author writes boys a lot more naturally than she writes girls, weirdly enough. Though I liked the girl in the second book SPARK a LOT, and I really fell in love with Gabriel in that one, too. I hope you have a better experience with SPARK when you get to it!

  15. marjorie

    Thanks for reviewing this! (And keeping it spoiler-free.) I so agree about Kemmerer’s spectacular ability to write male voices and describe paranormal powers in non-BTDT ways. Also agree with your faves: Spark, then Storm and Spirit. And Secret. Oh, what the hell, I’ve enjoyed them all. But I’m the only one of my YA-reading friends who is super-into this series, and I’m not sure why — it’s SO GOOD!

    • Wendy Darling

      Sure thing, Marjorie!

      And hellllo fellow fan, I’m always pleased to meet someone who loves the Elemental series. I totally get what you mean re: friends who aren’t into this series, I’m baffled by that myself. I also have a theory that you’re either a Brigid Kemmerer fan or you’re a Victoria Scott fan–what say you? After I read THE COLLECTOR, I thought huh, that’s kind of fun, but BK does this type of story/boy better. But the friends I have who read VS first end up not enjoying BK as much.

      PS, I had to google BTDT. I’m so out of touch. :(

      • Marjorie

        Hey, you had to google BTDT; I had to google Victoria Scott. :)

        The Dante Walker books don’t sound like my kind of thing, but hey, maybe. So many books, so little time.

        • Wendy Darling

          Oh good, after I typed that, I went uh-oh–what if she’s a big VS fan and I’ve offended her??

          I don’t know if I’d think more of those books if I hadn’t read Brigid Kemmerer, or whether I still would’ve thought Dante was kind of a jerk. An occasionally funny jerk, but still. I think it’s really hard to write arrogant, sarcastic teenage boys well (adult men are easier because they mostly have the chops to back up their words/ego with their actions), but Brigid really nails it as far as I’m concerned.

          • marjorie

            I do poorly with alphas, jerks and cool guys. I am a beta girl, all the way. I’ve been increasingly interested in fandom and fanfic as a concept, but do not watch any of the big shows that trigger it (Teen Wolf, Sherlock, Merlin, Dr Who, Supernatural) so I recently started watching Supernatural when I can’t sleep, b/c it is on Netflix and oh my god, I hate Dean SO MUCH. We’re supposed to think he’s wisecracking and charming and damaged (YOU COULD FIX HIM) I suppose, but he is homophobic and misogynist and sexist and domineering and an asshole. (I’m told things get better when Castiel shows up but I’m not there yet, and in general I dislike YA, fantasy, mystery, noir and romances with arrogant, supercilious and cruel-but-aw-he’s-hiding-so-much-pain heroes.

  16. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I really enjoyed Storm but Spark didn’t do much for me and I didn’t continue the series. I definitely want to return to this world and its characters but I feel as if I might experience many of the same criticisms as you, Wendy. I really DO love Michael, though, so perhaps it’s worth picking this back up just for him. Thanks for such a wonderfully written and balanced review! :)
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    • Wendy Darling

      I’m pretty clear on how your scifi taste differs from mine, Keertana, but I don’t know your taste in PNR well enough to predict how you’ll react to anything! Since we had opposite opinions to SPARK, maybe you’ll end up liking Michael’s story more than I did.

      Aren’t you in college this week? I hope it’s going well!

  17. Nikki

    I still haven’t tried this series yet but I’m seriously thinking about it. Probably one that I’ll wait until I know for sure the whole series is done so I can just blow through it.

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, officially the series is done. I’ve seen a couple of of “well, never say never” type comments on social media, and there’s definitely room for future stories if the demand is there.

      The series is very good, though. The first three are my favorites.

  18. kindlemom1

    I am trying so hard not to click on your spoilers! I have this coming up to read, in fact this weekend and I am so nervous about it but at the same time, I am loving this is in Michael’s POV! I really love him and was super excited to see he would be our narrator.
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    • Wendy Darling

      Oh no, no, no, please don’t click on the spoilers! They are real ones. Well, except for the first one about the opening chapter, that’s a fun pretend one, hah.

      I’m happy to hear you have a copy already and will be diving in this weekend! I love Michael, too. I hope you enjoy it.

  19. Vidya

    I am reading this book currently. It reminder me again of how I missed Brigid’s writing. I like it so far, but this book is less fun and more…..responsible. Thoughts of adults (or who are forced to be an adult) does that to a book, I think. I am excited to know how the author brings everything to a close.

    And that’s a clean review. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I know what you mean–I expected it to be more “responsible,” and I absolutely welcome the chance to transition to more adult problems, but I really missed the fun and humor, you know? It would have been nice if some of the ultra serious WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW drama and all the weight of the burdens that Michael had to carry were balanced with some of the fun stuff that adults get to enjoy, too. Not even a lot, just a little. And while Michael had money problems and CPS problems, I wish he’d had more adult problems with his relationship, too, not just the same sort of potential extra love interest we see all the time in paranormal romances.

      I do like the author’s writing so much, though, and I like her characters and dialogue, too. I’m glad you’re reading it! I don’t know very many people who have read this already, so I’m curious to see how everyone responds to it.