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AmberJ

Following the Leader (Amber J.)

Just along for the ride

Storm - Brigid Kemmerer “Hey. Fag.” Then he drew back the paper clip and let it fly.The boy whipped around. His hand shot out to snatch the paper clip from the air.There was a collective gasp from every student who’d been watching— Becca included.The boy’s hand had formed a fist around the paper clip, and for a fractured moment, Becca thought he was going to take a swing.But he half rose from his seat to drop the mangled paper clip in front of Tommy.“Look, dude,” he said, his voice low and earnest. “You want to ask me out, you man up and do it proper.”Where to begin?Admittedly, it took me way too long to read this book. For most of the story it felt like the engine in Becca's old beat-up car was just revving up, and for more than half the book we don't really go anywhere except to a party...and World History class, but then at about the 70% mark the wheels really started turning. But the characters Kemmerer has created are likeable and interesting (well, except for one), so it didn't feel like the story was dragging. Although [b:Storm|10401084|Storm (Elemental, #1)|Brigid Kemmerer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1325995724s/10401084.jpg|15305022] didn't keep me glued to my Kindle, every time I walked away there was this voice in my head telling me to go back for more (come to think of it, it was probably Nick lol).I guess there was a disconnect for me initially because I was sucked into this series by the prequel, [b:Elemental|13418864|Elemental (Elemental, #0.5)|Brigid Kemmerer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327068494s/13418864.jpg|18769953]. So I was all about Michael Merrick, and I liked that I could actually relate to Emily, and I loved the dynamic between the two of them, and I admired how Michael looked out for his little brother, Chris. And then just like that - it was over. And now I'm in Storm, and apparently a lot of time has elapsed, or maybe a little, who knows? (We aren't told anything or given any clues in the beginning of Storm). So when Chris makes a very big revelation to Becca in the first chapter, I'm like "Whaaa?? When did this happen?" And then there's Michael, but there's no Emily and there's no explanation for why she's missing (until much later), and there's a lot of tension between him and his brothers and I'm like, "What the heck is going on?" I guess Kemmerer was trying to create/maintain a certain level of suspense, but it was just confusing right off the bat, and it's hard to recover after that.As I mentioned above, the characters are what really make this book; and Kemmerer has given us a fairly large cast to choose from. With such a diverse group of personalities in the Elemental petri dish, every reader should find at least one character they can latch onto and root for. My faves are Hunter and Nick (and Michael, too). Hunter's presence was definitely refreshing because he exuded such confidence, and seemed so secure and kind; and didn't seem to crave the approval of his peers like so many teenage guys (and girls) do. Becca said it best: "No games, just simple chivalry and kindness. Gentle strength, the way a man should come to a woman."Sidebar: The last scene between Hunter and Becca left me with a lot of unanswered questions. But, I believe Hunter's feelings for Becca were genuine, and his quest for vengeance just kinda got in the way. I really liked that there are no clear-cut "good" or "bad" guys - everyone does something shady at some point that endangers the lives of others. (Nick is the closest thing to an Angel in this book, and even he slips over to the dark side for a minute during an intense moment). And Kemmerer definitely doesn't hold back when it comes to the action - she shows how serious the Guides are about eradicating the Pures to the point of recklessness where they don't give a flying f--k if innocent human lives are lost in the battle.I also have to give Kemmerer credit for writing female MCs that don't drive me to drink - I've mentally murdered so many fictional heroines over the years. But, just as with Emily in Elemental, I liked Becca, and her story arc. These girls are definitely relatable.Becca's character evolves from a shy girl who's been forced into shame and isolation because she's in the middle of a high school scandal, and becomes a stronger more self-assured and empowered person.Sidebar: I love that Hunter (and Chris) are the ones that help her find her true self and reclaim her girl power. Since men stole it from her, it's fitting that good men give it back to her. The only difference is in their methods: Chris usually comes to her rescue, but Hunter teaches her how to protect herself (which I feel is better - "teach a man to fish", I'm just sayin')Sidebar to the Sidebar: Why does Hunter always wear long-sleeved shirts. Seriously, like in every scene - long sleeved shirt. What's up with that?Unfortunately, Quinn, Becca's BFF, is basically one-note the entire book. She is a snarky, mouthy girl when we meet her and is still a snarky, mouthy girl when it's all said and done. And her one "vulnerable" moment felt weird and out of place. So I guess Storm a guide on how-to and how-to-not write a good female character.I also liked that this book isn't one long fantasy trip, and the characters have to deal with serious issues like death, parental abandonment, fiscal responsibility, bullying, and sexual assault.Sidebar: I liked how Brigid K. gives us nuggets of information about the origin of the rumors surrounding Becca as the story progresses so that we don't find out what really happened until almost the endI guess I've saved the worst for last: Gabriel.Gabriel. Gabriel. GABRIEL. I've never been so infuriated with a fake person.I didn't like his character...at all.I know the two good deeds (if you can call them that) he does are supposed to make me see that he's not that bad and he has the potential to be a good guy...but they didn't, and I don't.Gabriel presents this idea that if you've experienced a tragedy, then that gives you the green light to walk around with an attitude and visit your wrath on whomever you choose, and there will be no repercussions or consequences for your actions. (Someone does put him in his place for half-a-second, but then he goes right back to being the same ol' Gabriel).I know firsthand what it's like to have no parents. So I know that experience makes you angry and cold, and somewhat inconsiderate of other people's feelings. Being able to empathize with someone else's sorrow is a struggle sometimes. But I suck it up, and I try to do it, and if I can't, then I keep it to myself. It is NOT okay to treat people the way Gabriel does; and the fact that he gets away with it really pissed me off.More than anything, I hated the way Gabriel treated Michael. And Gabriel's "emotional" speech toward the end only makes things worse - because if he felt that way all along, then his mistreatment of Michael throughout the entire book makes no sense - it is inexcusable and unforgivable.Other than my rage over Gabriel's character lol, I really enjoyed the Elemental experience, and this book has definitely made me a Brigid K. fan.LESSONS LEARNED: There are kind, caring, strong, hot, powerful, fun guys out there (unfortunately, they all live in this one city in Maryland.)