Publisher: Kensington (2012)
Format: e-book | 290 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Description (GR): "Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally. Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can't. 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. And no one seems to believe him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Because Layne has a few secrets of her own..."First impressions/ Right after finishing: YEAH! Now we're talking! I just knew the twins were going to be great!
After being thoroughly disappointed by the first book in this series (Storm), which I thought was pretty average (one of those "why the hype" and "you're so not working for me, book" cases), with unappealing characters and a contrived plot, I was weary of reading book 2. But Gabriel and Nick (the Merrick twins) were my favorite characters in book 1, even if they were not the protagonists; and this book is about Gabriel, the "bad-boy", the guy who plays with fire (literally) and since I loved the concept of the series and the writing is good I decided to give it another chance.
I can now say this series is for me. There was a marked improvement in this book, not only in terms of characters but also in terms of plot.
Gabriel is such a layered and appealing character. He seems like a stereotype for the high school bad-boy who sleeps around and causes trouble, but Kemmerer explored his inner demons/ issues really well. She went to the root of Gabriel's problems, she made the character speak to the readers and she made them understand why Gabriel is like he is. Why he seeks conflict, why he wants to beat people and why he is always angry. Gabriel admits to his flaws in such an honest manner that the reader (at least I did) connects with him. This character really resonated with me. Gabriel exposes himself and his problems but it never seems weird or forced.
I also loved Layne. She wasn't as complex as Gabriel, but there was something about her that I found appealing.
There were no superfluous characters in this book (except perhaps Becca's father). Everyone was there for a reason. Simon, Becca, even Chris had his own little role.
This book had everything I felt was missing in book 1: more developed characters (that were interesting), a more linear and interesting plot (that wasn't all over the place) and the promise of a "greater" plot/story.
Overall, a big improvement from book one. I'll definitely keep following this series.