2014 · 3 stars · paranormal · ya

Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer
Pub. Date: September 30, 2014
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Kensington Teen!)
Summary: Earth. Fire. Air. Water. One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick understands 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 in for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way. His girlfriend, Hannah, understands pressure too. She’s got a child of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could put her life in danger at any moment.

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. Everything is set for the final showdown.

Four elements, one family. Will they hold together, or be torn apart?
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Recommended For: Readers who are already fans of the series + aren’t easily disappointed by lack-luster endings

This is a review for the fifth and final book in the Elemental series. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but I’m not making any promises. For my thoughts on the previous books/side-stories, head over here.

So, here we are. Two years and five books later, the Elemental series is coming to an end. To say these boys have been through a lot would be the understatement of the century: multiple deaths, coming out, finally letting go of the past – let’s not forget those pesky Guides, people trained to track Elementals and eliminate them. With Secret, war was finally on the horizon, setting the scene for Sacrifice.

Since the beginning I have flown my Michael Merrick flag proudly. I have been so in love with this boy, the eldest brother-turned-parent. Michael’s childhood quickly came to an end when his parents were killed and if he’s been a bit hard on his brothers it was only because he was doing his best to keep them in line so he wouldn’t lose custody. To lose his brothers would mean the end of Michael and he’s done – and will do – anything in his power to keep his family together. Sacrifice couldn’t be a better title for his story.

The novel opens with a bang – literally. Multiple houses in their cul-de-sac have been set on fire, including the Merricks’. However, because of their powers (Chris can summon rain, Nick can manipulate wind), the fire racing through their house isn’t anywhere near as bad as the destruction raining down on their neighbors’ homes. With their house in relatively decent shape, fingers start pointing.

When a second fire occurs and Michael is on the scene – again – suspicions are raised and suddenly his worst nightmare is coming true: his brothers are hastily shipped away. As if the universe enjoys messing with him, there’s also a stalker texting Michael, taunting him with photos of his house, his girlfriend. The Guides know where he is and they definitely aren’t willing to back down.

I guess I’m lucky in that a series I love was started and finished in two years. Most writers take that long (or even longer!) just to write a sequel. Brigid Kemmerer managed to churn out five novels plus a handful of novellas in just two years. So I know I shouldn’t complain. ..but I feel that Sacrifice is such a disappointment. I hate saying that, I hate thinking that. This was the novel I had been waiting for since the beginning, finally I have my favorite character’s story; I get a peek into his thoughts and see things through his eyes. Unfortunately, Sacrifice felt like it was only half-finished. Remember that little war I had mentioned, the one the previous four books had been building up to? It never happened. I expected the entire cast of characters to come back, everyone joining forces to finally defeat the Guides once and for all. Instead I get a page or two of a fight scene and that’s about it.

I’m not sure if Brigid was in a rush or if maybe she became bored and tired of this series, but as a reader, I expected far more. Key characters from the previous novels weren’t even mentioned in Sacrifice. Even Michael’s brothers were conveniently sent away! If the novel had been solely about Michael, a more character-driven novel like Spirit and Secret, I would have been thrilled. Instead, there’s also Hannah’s perspective. In the previous novels Hannah had been a great character. Like Michael, she had to grown up quickly: at seventeen she became pregnant. Now, at 22, she’s working hard to earn the respect of her fellow firefighters and still be there for her son. I couldn’t wait to see more of her. In Sacrifice she seems to be a completely new character. She’s selfish and childish and can’t help but stare at a fellow firefighter’s chest as he’s changing. I did not like where that storyline was heading and the entire time I wished Michael would end things with her once and for all. He deserved better.

Reviewing Sacrifice isn’t easy for me. I had such high expectations and Brigid Kemmerer totally let me down. Everything the previous novels had been working up to – the entire point of the series – wasn’t even mentioned in this book and half the characters didn’t even appear. The fate of one of the character’s came out on nowhere and didn’t get a reaction from anyone. Really, Brigid? I expected more from Sacrifice, I expected more from you. You’re so much better than this novel and I’m disappointed that this is how the series is going to end. I don’t mind sad endings if there’s closure, but here? Sacrifice practically ended in the middle of a scene. In fact, I thought it was the middle of a scene: when I went to the next page I was shocked to discover I had finished the book. My e-ARC of Sacrifice is 424 pages. The book ended on page 274. Those other 150 pages? Reprintings of the novellas. The novellas that were in the previous books. I don’t know what was going on with this book – I know Brigid has a new baby, maybe that played into it? – but Sacrifice was a total letdown.

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