After the Fire: Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

By Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: August 28, 2o12
Source: NetGalley

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…

**Almost certainly contains spoilers for Storm**

Gabriel Merrick. What a confusing character he is. On one hand, he’s a complete and total douchebag. On the other hand, there is a vulnerability to him that kind of makes you want to root for him (preferably after kicking him the beanbag for being a complete and total douchebag). I started out not liking him and ended up wanting to give him a hug and bake him cookies. Not really sure how that happened, because bad boys are not not not my thing.

Also, let’s talk cover for a moment…gotta say, none of those guys are really my type. Maybe the one who is supposed to be Chris. The rest are either too pretty or just not appealing to me. The guy on the other cover, though, the black one…hello! And is that guy in the background here supposed to be Nick or Hunter? I’m assuming Hunter because he looks not a damn thing like Gabriel.  When can I get a full-length Nick entry into the series?


Spark picks up two days after the events of Storm. I liked this a great deal because it lends a lot of continuity to the story. I’m not a huge fan of sequels that pick up a large chunk of time into the future when other things have happened, situations have changed, issues have been resolved, etc. Having it pick up right away makes it feel more like one long story than a bunch of shorter ones grouped together. I was also hoping that some of the unresolved story threads from the last book would be either resolved or addressed: namely, Hunter’s behavior, Becca’s dad, etc. They weren’t, but they did progress and since the series isn’t over I’m totally ok with that.

I found this book to be a little quicker paced than Storm, but I think I liked it slightly less. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like it, because I did…A LOT. However, ever the contrarian, I prefer Chris to Gabriel. I know, everyone is clutching their pearls. That said, I definitely warmed up to Gabriel (pardon the pun!) as the book went on. He definitely showed the layers to his personality that I thought were probably there while reading Storm. I also preferred Becca to Layne. Whereas Becca had her moments where I wasn’t loving her, Layne just came off as soooo meek and mousy. I get that she was all damaged or whatever, but the girl had no backbone.

There are lots of testosterone moments in this book. Even more than in the last one, if you can believe it. Someone is always hitting someone, getting up in someone’s face, etc. If not for the romance bits I’d almost say that this was a series that might have crossover appeal with guys, but I think it might be pushing it a bit. Maybe guys who don’t mind a little romance and girly business.

Also. Let me say up front that this is a personal issue that I have and in NO WAY disparaging the book or Ms. Kemmerer’s writing. However…and this may be slightly spoilery, though I’ll give no specifics…this is the second book where there’s been an attempted rape, or at least a guy forcing himself on a girl. And in both cases, there have been mean girls complicit in some way, either just by knowing and doing nothing to stop it or by actually encouraging it and rooting it on. I’ll be honest, I don’t know *any* girls that mean, now or in high school. And while I’m older and wiser and all that crap I can’t imagine ever standing around and letting someone be assaulted, whether I liked them or not. So it skeeved me a little. But again, that’s just a personal thing and I’m certainly not saying that it doesn’t happen, because I’m sadly sure that it does. But this high school’s mean girls are borderline felons.  So really that’s not a book issue, it’s more an “I’m so aghast that things like this could actually happen that it made me uncomfortable issue.” And really when you think about it, what good is a book if it doesn’t push our comfort zones?

I am so impressed with this series, really. I feel like it should be getting more attention than it does. Pretty sure one or both of Storm and Spark will end up on my favorites of the year list when all is said and done. I just anted up for the two novellas and if Spirit ends up on Netgalley I’ll be clicking that request button so hard my mouse will probably break. I rarely RARELY buy print books anymore since I live in a teeny townhouse and space is at a premium, but I think I’ll likely end up picking up this series in either hardcover or paperback. Truly the highest compliment I can give these days!

4.5/5 Stars

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1 Comment

  1. I didn’t read your review b/c I haven’t read book one. But I did check your rating and am happy you loved it. Can’t wait to read this series!


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