***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***
Secret by Brigid Kemmerer
Book Four of the Elemental series
Publisher: K Teen
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Ecopy from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
Nowhere is safe. Not even home...
Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.
Keep his grades sky-high or he'll never escape his hometown.
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?
What I Liked:
I can honestly tell you guys that after I read Spirit and Breathless (both quite recently, might I say), I was BEYOND excited to read Secret. Nick and his secrets, Quinn and her broken heart, the problem of the Guides being a threat... everything is coming to a major climax in the series, and I just knew this book would be super significant in the series, as well as by itself.
In this book, we get the story of Nick, and of Quinn. Quinn knows about Nick and his uncertainty his sexuality, and so she keeps up the pretense of being his girlfriend. That lets Nick have more time to decide, it lets him have an excuse to go watch her dance (her AND her new dance partner), and it lets Quinn have a boyfriend. Sort of. All the while, there is a Guide in town who is more dangerous than Silver. And Nick's grades are suffering, due to a new distraction (or fifty).
I flew through this book. Like, usually when I'm reading a book, I'll occasionally take note of the percentage of which I've read, or the page number I've reached. With this book, I think I saw "10%, and then I read the rest in one straight shot. I read the whole book in one sitting, but I only looked at the percentage one time, early in the book, and then just read. You know what this tells me? I wasn't bored at all. Kemmerer kept this book interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading and reading. That is SO RARE, for me.
But how could this book NOT be interesting? So many things are happening all at once, in this series. Each book has it's own plot, but then there is the series plot. In this series, it's all coming down to the Pure Elementals versus the Guides. By the end of this book, something noticeable has shifted, changed, and the finally showdown while take place in book five.
Nevertheless, I LOVED this book's plot as well. It was definitely engaging and never boring. We get to see Nick struggle, something that no one sees except Nick himself, and sometimes Quinn (and now, someone else). Nick is so different from the other boys, and Kemmerer did an EXCELLENT job of keeping him in character.
In general, I love how well Kemmerer does this. Like, a lot of times, I notice that over an entire series, when an author has many characters that keep popping up consistently in the series, the characters start to sound the same or act similarly. But Kemmerer does a really great job of keeping each character unique and SEPARATE. Like, Becca is still Becca, exactly how she seemed in book one. Same with Chris - that was impressive, how Chris stills seems like Chris from Storm. Even though we're not seeing certain characters in the spotlight, the characters still seem exactly like how they were in the book they were featured. Bravo!
Kemmerer hits two major real-life issues in this book. Nick is uncertain about his sexuality, and when he understands that part of himself, he has trouble telling his family and friends. Quinn lives in abusive home - her mother and brother drink and shoot up and physically harm her, but Quinn doesn't want to call the police or Social Services, because she doesn't want her and her little brother to be split up into different foster homes.
I love that even though these books are paranormal-based, Kemmerer makes them so realistic that they seem like contemporary reads. She even has tough issues like the ones I mentioned above, and I love this. I love that Kemmerer includes domestic violence and homosexuality in this book. Both are current, real issues in today's society, and Kemmerer attacks them head-on. Okay, attacks is not the best choice of words. But I hope you see what I mean, and don't misconstrue that statement.
Let's talk romance. So, by now, I'm sure you know that Nick is gay. I hope everyone read Breathless, because that little, short novella is a GEM. Well, suffice it to say, I love the relationship between Adam and Nick - it's one of true friendship, gradual trust, and attraction. Those three things are important in any relationship, and I love how well Kemmerer built those ideals (and others) into Nick and Adam's relationship. Both males walked into the relationship scarred somehow, and Kemmerer uses this fact to make the pair seem imperfect but real.
And... there is another romance story in this book. You didn't think Kemmerer would leave out Quinn, did you? Honestly, I did, and so when I saw the direction Kemmerer was going with this guy and Quinn, I was all over that. It was subtle, and I totally picked up on it, but I wasn't sure... until it wasn't subtle anymore. I LOVE the relationship that Quinn has with this mystery guy (no spoilers). I love seeing this side of him. I feel like I actually understand him - I see his side of things. We can't vilify characters (or people) without knowing and understanding their side of things. Kemmerer proves this point, with this relationship.
I didn't like Quinn very much in previous books - she was AWFUL to Becca (Becca is my favorite, okay? So is Chris. Storm is my favorite book of the series - so far). Even in this book, Quinn is a royal pain in the butt at times, especially to Becca and other people that care about her. BUT, by the end of the book, we can really see the change in Quinn. So, her character development was pretty spot-on.
The ending... oh, I need book five, like, RIGHT NOW. None of Kemmerer's books end in cliffhangers, but the overall plot of the series has me begging for book five. PLEASE. Release date? September 30, 2014? Excellent. That's this year. Good. I am content with that.
What I Did Not Like:
There wasn't much that I didn't like. One thing I wanted more of was more of a display of the romance between Quinn and her new man. Towards the end, I was hoping to see more. We don't get more, which is okay, I get it, but I feel like this was Quinn's book as much as it was Nick's, sort of. So, I wanted to see more, towards the end, of the other romance in the book - Quinn and her guy. But that's okay.
Would I Recommend It:
I most certainly would! If you've been reading this series, keep reading! Don't worry if you don't like Quinn, or if you think that the series is too long, or whatever. You'll most likely end up loving Quinn (like I did), and the flow of the series's plot is fantastic.
And if you have a problem with reading about gay people or gay culture or anything related, I still think you should give this book a chance. Open-mindedness is a beautiful thing! And who knows? Kemmerer might convince you to see things in a different way. I totally understand that everyone has their own beliefs (really, I do get it. More than you know), but give this book a chance!
4 stars. This book is definitely my second favorite of the series! Second only to Storm, which no book in this series will touch. Except Sacrifice COULD, since I obviously have not read it yet. Basically, I'm saying that this book is amazing!