By Brigid Kemmerer
Released Date: September 30th, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Genre: Young Adult
Source: eARC via Netgalley
I was SO delighted to see that Kensington had approved my request for the final book in the Elementals series, Sacrifice. I’ve been a huge fan of Brigid Kemmerer and her books since the second book, Spark, released. And now that I’ve finished the last book, I can certainly say that I’m sad to see the series come to an end. It took me about a week and a half to read Sacrifice, which is quite a long time by my reading standards. But I wanted to savor the pages – and I’ll admit I was a little scared to keep reading at
some points. I was afraid something bad would happen to my beloved characters! But I eventually made it through, if a little bruised and with a few less tears.
Sacrifice centers around the eldest Merrick brother, Michael. After his parents died in a fire five years ago, Michael was left to care for and piece together the remnants of his family. The care for his three younger brothers, as well as his father’s landscaping business, fell into his lap at the tender age of eighteen. And poor Michael has been bearing the burden with stoic determination, never once wanting to lean on others for help for fear that his siblings would be swept away into the foster care system. Of course, the fact that all four of them are full elementals makes things even more dangerous. In addition to all the everyday chores and responsibility, Michael has to keep his brothers safe from murderous Guides and other elementals who are out to cause trouble for his family.
And that’s really where Sacrifice starts up. Calla Dean is still at large and possibly up to mischief. And when Michael’s house – as well as every other house in their cul-de-sac – go up in flames, Michael is sure that it’s either Calla trying to start a war with the Guides or, worse yet, the Guides themselves out to kill. To makes things even more difficult, when their home mysteriously survives the fire with minimal smoke damage, Michael is seen as the prime suspect. From then on, those who are starting fires start playing a malicious “game” with everyone Michael holds dear. It’s up to Michael to keep his family together by any means necessary, as well as keep his girlfriend, Hannah, and her son out of trouble – all without being arrested. Eventually, an ultimate sacrifice has to be made to save himself, his family, friends, and the entire town. Michael just doesn’t know if he can handle it.
What I really loved most about this story is that we get to see and learn so much more about Michael. Throughout the other four books, we learned about the other brothers and Fifth, Hunter, but throughout all the novels, we only really get fleeting glances of Michael. He’s the strong one, accepting responsibility with no complaint. He’s the first to try and solve a problem and the first to step up and keep his brothers safe. But in this book, we really get to see how much of a strain that such a responsibility has put on him. We get a rare glimpse into his mind and feelings and see that he is still a young man, despite everything he’s taken on. We see vulnerability where we’ve only seen quiet strength. Not only that, but we learn more about his and Hannah’s relationship. In fact, we get to see a lot of Hannah, too. Whereas she was more of a background character in the previous books, she plays a main part in this one and we really get to understand their relationship.
As always, I’m amazed by Brigid’s ability to create such believable male characters; that’s really rare for a female writer. As someone who grew up with a house full of brothers, I find the relationship between all the brothers very heartwarming. They're rowdy and can get easily irritated with each other, but in the long run, they would die for one another. You can feel their love, but you can see that, in many ways, they behave just like teenage guys, too. And, of course, plenty of their dialogue kept me smiling.
The one complaint that I had with this book, and it’s a big one, is that I felt the ending was very forced or abrupt. I received an eARC of the story and the three novellas were in the back, which I didn’t know about at the time. For the longest time, I thought I had another third of the book to read and, when I turned the last page and saw that the book ended so abruptly, I was more than a little disappointed. There were still many loose ends that could’ve been tied up a little more neatly. I won’t go into too much detail, for fear of making this review spoilery, but I would’ve liked to see something of a “happier” ending, one that left us with more answers than questions.
At any rate, having it so open-ended leaves Kemmerer some room to write more if she ever decided to. I certainly hope so! As much as I hated the ending of this, I think it was partially because it was the end. Of the entire series. I’ve loved the series and I’m thankful for Brigid for taking us on such a wild ride. If you haven’t done so, make sure to check this series out!