Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Secret (Elemental, #4)

Secret (Elemental, #4)Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental, #4
Published: January 28th 2014
Publisher: K-Teen
Format: Paperback, 352 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Keep his brother's business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.
Keep the secret of where he's going in the evenings from his own twin--or he'll lose his family.
Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who's supposed to be his "girlfriend's" partner.
Of course there's also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.
There's a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.

Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?

It’s been a very long time since I finished a book in one sitting (a couple of hours, really) not daring to blink or look away lest I miss something important. Brigid Kemmerer hit it out of the ballpark once again. Secret is, I dare say, her best Elemental book so far. The sensitivity and subtlety she showed with Nick launched her from an author whose books I enjoy to someone I admire and deeply respect.

Unlike Hunter’s book (and Gabriel’s for that matter), Secret has very little action and a whole lot of contemplation. Nick is in such a difficult situation, forced to hide his true self from everyone, including his twin brother, convinced that they’d never accept and love him if they knew who he really was. Nick’s struggles were done so beautifully and realistically, his pain poured out of every page, his insecurities and fears a burden on the reader’s shoulders. Nick’s reluctance to open up was incredibly frustrating, since not knowing the outcome made his suffering so much worse. At times, even being rejected by everyone seemed better than pretending, but it was clear that Nick needed to reach his breaking point first… and reach it he did.

Also unlike the previous books, the other Merricks get very little attention. There was always one Merrick boy (or Hunter) at the center of each book, but in Secret, everything was about Nick and only Michael played a more significant part. I attribute this to the fact that Nick is such an overwhelmingly troubled character, but also a strong presence that simply takes over every scene, his mild manners notwithstanding.

In addition to Nick’s story, we see everything that goes on in Quinn’s house, especially now that her older brother is back in town. Against all odds, Quinn finds a love interest of her own, and in the most unlikely of places. It was hard for me to like Quinn, her prickly nature making it almost impossible, but I was fully aware of how complex she was and how her reactions always made sense. While I felt Nick’s pain and even suffered along with him, it was through Quinn that I saw Kemmerer’s superior understanding of human nature. Please allow me this small comparison – I always complain that something is missing from Katie McGarry’s books. Her characters never seem real because their reactions are textbook perfect. Whatever she’s missing, Kemmerer has it in spades. Her characters are nuanced, deeply flawed and, most importantly, entirely believable.

While reading Breathless, the prequel novella also told from Nick’s perspective, isn’t strictly necessary, I strongly recommend it for those who wish to fully enjoy Nick’s (and Quinn’s) story. It will give you a great idea of what to expect and show you a side of Nick you’ve never seen before.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. You have me curious, I kind of dismissed this series as another YA paranormal romance and never picked them up but the depth and complex characters you are describing combined with your appreciation for this author have me rethinking the series.

  2. You know, I haven't read any of these books, even though I've read so many rave reviews! I really should get on this, especially since Nick sounds like a great, albeit frustrating, character.

  3. I wasn't interested in the books before, but you've made me want to read at least this one, Maja!

  4. I was a little let down by Hunter's story, but I think I'm going to be reading Nick's one. It looks like the author really handled Nick's feelings and insecurities about coming out well.
    I've heard complaints about Quinn not being the most likeable, but your comment about Kemmerer understanding human nature well definitely makes me want to read this.
    Lovely convincing review, Maja.

  5. We are review twins today! :P

    So glad you liked this one as much as I did. It definitely had a very different feel to it than the others in the series, for very good reason of course. ;)

  6. I can't wait to read this Maja! I still need to read Spirit and Breathless, but I so love this series and can't wait for Nick's book. I feel for him already, and I know I'm going to want him to just tell someone so he can unburden himself and not crumble under the weight of the unknown any longer. Beautiful review my friend!

  7. I couldn't put it down either and loved being in Nick's head. So deep and she handled it so well

  8. Ah always love books that are hard to walk away from. Glad you really enjoyed this one and being the 4th book of the series, it sounds like this author really knows how to capture her readers! Another great review.

  9. Completely agree! I love those moments with Michael, nearly made me cry but I was all choked up. As if I couldn't love his characters any more. I'm scared now for the final book. I don't like the title at all.

  10. I guess I should read the rest first

  11. I've wanted to read the first book since it came out. Oh now I have to add the novella to my list as well as this one. I know if you loved this one, I must read it. Na, the whole series!! :)

  12. oh it sounds so great! I haven't start the series I confess but I have the three first books so I just need more time to try them. I hope I'll enjoy them as much as you did.

  13. I didn't have much luck with Spark and ended this series there, but I rather love the twist with Nick - oops, spoilers! - and am contemplating picking these books back up again. Wonderful review, Maja - I'll have to seriously consider getting back to these soon!

  14. I love when I can't put a book down, and I'm so glad to hear Secret had that effect on you! I'm looking forward to reading this, and I'm thrilled that you think it's the best installment so far. I would have never thought to compare Kemmerer to McGarry, but now that you mention it, it makes sense. I agree Kemmerer's characters are beautifully flawed and believable. Wonderful review!

  15. I must with this series sometime soon! I love the sound of the story and when the series gets better with every book it's like an invitation to me. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one Maja. Great review :)

  16. I have all three of the books in this series and have yet to start it. Guess this will be my next YA series to catch up on since I am ditching Shatter ME for now. I can't wait to meet these characters.

  17. I've heard great things about this series. I'm glad Elemental, #4 was such a great read for you. The author's writing in this one sounds really impressive. Wonderful review, Maja. :)

  18. After Hunter's book I was discouraged about this series because he frustrated me to no end. I have to give this one a shot if you thinks it's the best of the series yet. Great review, Maja! :)

  19. I am excited to read this series. I have yet to begin it and dont know why. These last few reviews I have read have me wanting to drop all current books and grab book 1 in this series. I will get book 1, but have to be a good girl & wait.

  20. Secret really would have been my favorite had it not been for Quinn and Tyler. :/
    I really loved reading Nick's story and seeing him find his own happy ending and LOVED the small part Michael played in helping Nick feel more comfortable in his own skin but Quinn and Tyler bothered me to no ends. I spend the majority of the book wanting to punch both of them. Quinn was sympathetic at the beginning, and while I understand her complexity, she didn't work for me. I hated how Nick suffered because of her.

    Great review, Maja! :)

  21. So happy you liked it! I loooove this series though I was not so keen on Hunter's POV


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