Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys all the ones she doesn't want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.
And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.
Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.
The storm is coming
First, it took far too long to find out what happened with Michael and Emily (from the e-novella "Elemental", which I read before this and is a prequel). We found out like...60% of the way in. I wasn't happy about it, and I'm even less happy with how it affected the family.
Second, I like the Australian cover to this book a lot more. While I appreciate the fact they are highlighting the fact these books are first about the brothers, they're kind of cheesy and I'd swear the models for Gabriel and Nick look nothing a like despite supposedly being identical twins. And Michael looks like a constipated thug. Which pleases me none.
As for the novel itself, I really enjoyed it. Becca pissed me off at times (she's kind of wishy-washy in regards to Hunter and Chris), but I'm really glad that Kemmerer chose to lay a lot of the focus on the interplay between the brothers. Chris is the youngest Merrick, his element is Water, and apparently the least likely to get into any trouble (the twins apparently make a habit of it and Michael is just labeled as troublesome).
I don't recommend reading "Elemental" before reading this, despite it being a prequel. Five years (I think its five years) pass between the end of that novella and this book so its jarring. The parents are gone, Michael is even surlier then before and the Merricks are treated as social pariahs. I don't think enough information was really given to fill in the blanks correctly. We're told a lot of what happened, but the connection is really missing. Especially with how the brothers treat Michael.
As I mentioned Becca rather pisses me off at points. She makes some very stupid decisions, that threaten incredulity and my belief she has a brain in her head (especially at the end). I feel for her, her ex-boyfriend really spread a vicious lie about her and when it all comes out its for the most senseless and jerk reason. The entire situation may be a trigger for some however as it involves rape/sexual assault, so be forewarned (nothing occurs, but it gets hella close). However she doesn't seem to have learned appreciably from the incident.
Then again thinking back on that town, the inhabitants seem to be stuck in an almost Salem Witch Trial like environment. They vilify anyone they deem different--at the drop of a hat it seems and will trust a few very questionable sources without getting the whole story. The person who is sent to get to the truth of the matter does a horrifically bad job of it, injuring innocent dozens, and possibly killing some. All because one group of people are like 'THEY ARE THE BAD GUYS. KILL THE MERRICKS.'
Kemmerer, for all the fact this is a fascinating world and a fascinating cast of characters (most of the time), stacks the deck so heavily against the Merricks it makes everyone else look like the devil incarnate. There is no adult supervision, and what few adults wander in and out of the story seem to be oblivious to the fact the teenagers are hellbent on harming each other (at best) and killing each other (at worst). By halfway through the book I was trusting no one at all who wasn't an Merrick and highly suspicious of anyone who interacted with them (even Becca!).
There's also another niggling worry--Becca is mostly out of the loop in regards to the whole Elemental power struggle being raged in her town and ostensibly around the world. Apparently its meant to be a secret of some sort, but with so many of the townsfolk running around being the YA paranormal version of Benders, how has she never heard the rumors? A character I can't mention for spoiler reasons pretty much says 'I wanted to keep you in the dark', but as that character wasn't around for the better part of her life how exactly did they achieve that?
This review turned out to be a lot more negative then I wanted, because I truly enjoyed this book. I read it straight through in one sitting and then rushed off to buy Book 2 and the novella "Fearless" (which is centered around one of my least favorite characters, sigh). I'm hoping that the next novels do more to fill in the blanks for me.