Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Review: Elemental, by Antony John

Elemental introduces a world that uniquely mixes dystopian and paranormal elements.

Most of the population has died from a plague. Thomas, our main character, and his friends live on an outer bank island called Hatteras. When dangerous storms come, the adults (referred to as the guardians) send their children to a neighboring island, Roanoke, via canoes to take shelter. The guardians are very secretive, and the kids really don't know much about the world outside Hatteras, past or present.

Each child, except for Thom, has a gift. They can control an element. One can predict the weather. One can catch fish with her hands, One can start fires. One can see people's deaths. Thom is an outcast because he has no elemental power.

The guardians never come to pick up the kids after the storm. The kids soon realize that pirates have taken over Hatteras, and they must survive and try to rescue their parents. They begin to explore Roanoke, which they have never been allowed to do, and find many things and unearth many secrets that their parents were keeping from them.

I found the premise interesting, even if there were some issues. I had trouble remembering the characters -- what their element was, who their parents were, how they related to Thom. Who were brothers and sisters. I think it's because we jump right into the action. Many times I've said, "this book starts out so slow." But in this case, I think Elemental would have benefited from a bit more exposition. Really, we only read about the parents for a few pages, before we are expected to remember each one's unique relationship to the story. I would have liked to know more about the characters in general before they are thrown into this survival situation.  I eventually sorted this all out, but it took a while and I think I may have missed some things at the beginning. I really had trouble connecting with the characters and feeling their emotions.

Surprising things are revealed, and the motivations of the guardians and the pirates turns out to be pretty complex. The ending was sufficiently exciting, and there is a definite conclusion to this episode. Two additional novels in this series are available, Firebrand and Renegade. My high school students, and even middle schoolers, will enjoy this adventure involving pirates and some very resourceful teens.

Published by Dial, 2012
eBook obtained from the library
320 pages

Rating: 3/5

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  1. Pacing and back story are so important and often overlooked by bloggers. thanks for warning me that the book is confusing because of pacing and not enough back story. how are things going i your library this year? I have 35 readers on my Mock Printz team which is about 15 less than last year. Sigh. I feel reading fading away and it alarms me.

    1. We are holding our own. I think checkouts are about the same as last year. I'd like to increase that, but it's not easy! Hang in there.


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