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Spirit  - Brigid Kemmerer An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

So far, the Elemental series has been a pretty meaningful, albeit a bit rocky, ride. We had Storm, a fast-paced introduction to the Merricks brothers who found themselves in danger of being killed by a Guide; Spark, a character-driven book that focused on Gabriel's internal conflicts while also meeting love along the way; and finally, we have newly-releasedSpirit, a novel that featured Hunter who wasn't a Merrick but vital to the overall story all the same. Storm was okay, Spark was better, and Spirit, after deep discernment, was the best instalment of the three. It's not everyday that you find an author who can write teen boys with different personalities and voices as effectively as Brigid Kemmerer. And here I thought I loved Gabriel... but it turns out Hunter stole my heart in the end. If anything, Kemmerer just keeps getting better and better book after book after book.

What I really liked best about Spirit was how Kemmerer successfully integrated a plot full of suspense, intrigue, and drama while making it also significantly character-driven. In the previous books, I never really liked Hunter all that much as his actions were very inconsistent and those only made me suspicious and wary of him, but reading his thoughts and struggles in this book made me sympathize and understand him more. I couldn't help but imagine myself in his shoes and feel angry and frustrated myself. Even though the Merricks had good reason to not completely trust him, I still felt angry and sad at the same time, having many episodes of "Dude! It's not what you think, really!!" I do think he was a believable character and had a very genuine voice that's lacking in this demographic nowadays. His internal conflicts and his evasive nature were effectively written as it evoked strong reactions from me. Given, not all of them were positive for Hunter, but the thing is, I felt connected, and that's the most important.

And surprisingly, the love interest this time around wasn't as annoying as the first two! While I found Kate sometimes questionable, she was overall a good, level-headed heroine. Definitely a fresh air from Becca and Layne who made me want to pull my hair out strand by strand just to numb the anger I felt for them. Despite there being a romance blossoming between the two (as always), it wasn't the central factor of this book... it was more of a background than anything else, and something that moved the storyline that ultimately led to an exploding climax. I really like it when authors make bold moves with their characters. It only shows how great of a writer one is when they're not afraid to take risks AND do it well. But because I read from other reviews about a rather violent "twist" near the ending, it kinda decreased the impact for me as I was expecting SOMETHING VIOLENT to happen (yes, I expected that scene). I definitely think it was over too soon and felt it could've used a little more emotion, a little more angst and narrative. I mean, a scene like that SHOULD summon strong reactions, but Hunter's scene with his grandpa was more powerful and heartbreaking than that one. *shrug*

Now, to the nitpicky stuff...

There were a few things I didn't appreciate in this novel. These are, of course, subjective, and only got some attention from me because I'm nitpicky like that, but I can't deny these things made me scream and rage and insane.

Nitpick #1.) I couldn't stand the insta-love at first. Okay, it was more of insta-attraction, but still. Hunter met Kate and was completely mesmerized, and all the way to class, he only kept on thinking about the smell of cinnamon and apples and the blonde streaks of her hair. I thought Hunter was more... composed than this, know what I mean? When I read that scene, my eyes went a full 360 at least three times.



Nitpick #2.) I really don't know how to explain this coherently, but there's really something about Hunter and Kate's astonishment in certain things that bugged me. I know their situations were similar and stuff and I'm okay with that, but I seriously question the redundancy of some particular "omg, nobody has done that to me before!!" scenes.

Examples (made-up but they could be close to what was in the book...):

Oh, someone listened to me! "I am amazed! No one has ever listened to me before."

Oh, someone apologized to me! "I am surprised! Nobody has ever apologized to me for the longest time!"

Oh, someone did something nice to me! "I am flabbergasted! Someone's nice to me! Nobody's usually that nice to me!"


Over and over and over... It drove me nearly mad.



Nitpick #3.) Around 60%, Hunter and Kate were bantering with each other about something. That's not uncommon. But what got to me was the fact that while Kate was arguing with him, Hunter suddenly KISSED her to shut her up. Like... wtf. That's not only wrong, but that's also cliché, old, and annoying as fuck. I can't stand this kind of scene; I don't get its appeal at all. Every time I encounter this, it feels like hearing a nail scrap a blackboard. It doesn't help that Kate enjoyed it and what ensued was a make-out session.



*END OF NITPICKS*

Overall, I think this is the strongest book out of the whole series. The straight-forward way of narrating is pretty effective, and successfully puts the feelings of the characters across to the readers. Spirit is definitely better than Spark and Storm combined, and I am only excited to see what else Kemmerer has in store for us. She knows her stuff and she knows how to write a damn good story and male characters. I wouldn't have the books in any other way (okay, maybe the previous heroines could use a bit of tough love - they were annoying!).

Final verdict: High 3.5 / 5