|Genre: "Dystopian", Paranormal, Action/Advnture, Romance Age: YA Format: Hardcover, 320 pgs. Published: Nov. 21st, 2012 Source: Won,Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing. Rating: Wobbly 3 Stars Recommendable? Conditionally|
I was all over the place with this one. There was a mix of the successful, acceptable, so-so, and lousy. Elemental felt like I would’ve, should’ve like it better, but couldn't. My hopes remain so close, yet so far.
When deciding a rating, it wobbled between 2 1/2 stars and 3. I went with the higher rating for benefit of the doubt and because I'm still hoping the next book, Firebrand will give me what I want. In the end, I will say that it was a fast paced, action-oriented read and enjoyable depending on what your preferences are.
It worked as the first book in a trilogy setting up, and drawing in while holding its own as a story. I will be reading Firebrand to find out what happens next but without a burning need to read it right now, I don't know when I'll get to it.
Hopefully, it recovers, strengthens, and clarifies to meets the high expectations I had for Elemental. It’s good enough with plenty to discuss, though it's not all pleasant. Most specifics are spoilers though, so that will be far down below behind tags.
A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future . . . Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe. In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine.
|Cover Love! It's what drew me to Elemental in the first place|
|Loved the premise and world||World-building felt haphazard, not enough to start and patched as it goes along. Not enough for me|
|Fast paced and tons of action||Struggled to get immersed and imagine the world at first; perhaps a forward or more information up front would've helped|
|Two favorite characters||Didn't care for most characters: unable to connect and they fell flat, including Thom, the main character|
|Solid groundwork for a paranormal beach colony||Dystopian doesn't show up as a possibility until the end, even so it might be better as a post-apocalyptic|
- Thom: I like him generally because he's a rather general boy like a placeholder to put yourself in the story, rather than a fully fleshed out person. I wasn't attached to him in anyway. He's very wobbly, like a baby calf standing up after being born. I’m sure he’ll get it eventually, just not really a fan of his in Elemental. The only reaction to him I had was wanting to smack him for 50 pages due to whining about never again being touched or loved, when he could have just realized, “I’ll ask [person who would clearly know the answers] so it's not hopeless!” Even if Thom's would-be mentor was dead or is going to die, Thom could’ve showed some gusto by becoming determined to figure it out and standing up for himself. Instead he continued the pattern of self-hate and self-pity. A boy feeling emotions isn't the problem, I'd hate a teenage girl whining about the same thing when it's clearly wrong, if they'd think for a second. Then there’s the pathetic excuse of a love triangle. Oy.
- Rose: Mostly defined as quite, meek, and shy. And by Thom’s attraction to her, which is superficial. He keeps saying "She's SO Pretty! She’s always pretty! Look at her hair and her skin and her face." I wanted to start calling her Pretty Polly Pockets, after all they are both pretty blondes and need someone to move them around. The personality is where? Oh, she's apparently really nice but I don't know about all that. I’ve been told that countless times but have yet to see it. She's mumbled about "my father shouldn't say those mean things..." and "you're special too..." but what about actually about being NICE? She helps who she likes, when she wants but I don’t see her jumping to save Alice or being nice to Griffin. She decides to become her own person later in the book but it was so little, so late it didn’t really have an impact on me. She isn’t really active or payed much attention to, except for being leered at by Thom, so that’s a factor. Hopefully in the next book she’ll make more of an impression.
- Alice: My favorite. She felt like a full character with her rebellious, spitfire personality. She's active and uses her strengths. Her motivations, and her reasonings are clear. There’s a standout moment at the fire where she stands up for herself and calls out Thom. It really showed who she was and how she felt. Of course, Thom’s like "I didn't think [it] had anything to do with [spoiler] me." Stupid, stupid Thom. And he’s supposedly observant? *snort* Anyways...
- Griffin: My other favorite. He feels solid and compelling. There were so many moments and actions that showed who he was: strong, compassionate, talented and smart. I don’t know if I just liked him, or removing the ability of using (often) long sentences made it impossible to tell Griffin. Maybe it was that he and Alice were different and stood out while Thom and Rose were bland. Maybe it was that Alice and Griffin struggled and overcame, while Thom and Rose wallowed or did nothing. Whatever it was, it worked well for Griffin and Alice, not so much for Thom and Rose.
The Love Triangle:
I get why there’s a love triangle seeing as how they are a small isolated community. There’s limited options. However, it doesn’t work for me because of personalities, lack of connection and obviously skipping over other people.
Other Random Things with My Reaction and Reasoning:
- *happy* Nice job with the controlling the element energy with your heartbeat. It explains how his mom even could survive being pregnant with an energy elemental. I actually am really excited to have Thom start learning and exploring his element.
- *mixed emotions* Who else is in the merry colony? Thom mentions 15 people and there’s vague mentions of the other guardians but... There’s 15 confirmed in the beginning and two dies. We only meet one, who doesn’t last long and wasn’t pleasant. Their death was just a clue, convenient movement and drama. No need to grieve or feel anything, it’s not like any of the characters did. Then there’s the second death, and get treated to two sentences about them, which is then used to clarify how the kids are reacting. It wasn’t impactful. I didn’t care. It liked one of the attacking pirates dying - okay then, better them than someone important but whatever. It, again, was used as movement of plot and drama, very much like the first death. I get what movement was needed and what it accomplished, it just felt really weak element to the story; just more blah events meant for the bigger picture that’s underwhelming. I counted all the characters I know, and there’s still 4 unnamed/unknown characters, the majority of the guardians. We’ve only meet two guardians and only the kids are evacuated so they have to be guardians. These are the people I’m suppose to be so worried about getting back. Yeah...about that...I only cared about getting them back because the kids needed the adults. If those 4 had washed up dead, I doubt there’d be any emotional response for them either. Hard to care when there’s no connection or reason for it.
- *left out information* There's at least one couple of parents (who? no clue but there’s a vague reference to a mother eventually) yet still the youngest child is 9? Are they using contraceptives? Too old? (I have no idea how old they even are.) Not having sex? What is this colonies daily life even like? What’s on this island? I don’t get it.
- *worried* If King Pirate Dare is one of them wouldn't he KNOW that there's a chance Thom is a seer or an energy elemental? With a seer mother and an fire/energy elemental dad, WTF else is Thom suppose to be? And Thom was three when the pirate there last so...if he didn't check the element of Thom then he was stooooopid because it shows up in kids. Young kids, every kid so far is described as showing at 3 or 4 at least. Everyone else clearly knew from the very get go, so why didn’t Dare? Sure, there’s no clear explanation of what happened the first time he raided but still, Dare is stupid for not being open to the possibility of it happening. Considering what we are suppose to believe this guy did, it’s hard to buy this oversight. Did the others lie to Dare? Tell him Thom is a fire elemental? And Dare believed them, even after using the lantern and not setting fire to the ropes to drown the pirates? After the lantern thing, what did he think Thom’s element was?
- *confused* What did they feed the brand spanking new infant Griffin when the mother died the day after he was born? There aren't any kids described as his age, the nearest being 2 years apart so how likely is it that someone was breastfeeding and willing to do it for him? This little colony doesn't look at all close from what I read, so I don’t see it happening. With older kids they couldn’t have used left over baby formula (though I doubt it’d still be good after all this time anyways.) There’s no talk of animals besides wild horses on the island for milk. Or is this what Thom’s dad was blackmailed with to make that terrible promise to hide their energy element? Did Thom’s dad keep him alive by giving him energy? Would that even work for a growing infant? Hmmmmm.....
- *confused and worried* What does that secondary elementmean? Is the author going to pull some Captain Planet bull with the "Element of Strength" and "Element of Heart"? Or is it just pumped up generic super human side stuff? This is one question that will be in the next book but am worried how it could go.
I did say this was a wobbly 3 stars at first and that is still true. It's a good story but it wasn't fully enjoyable because of how disconnected I was and how downright annoying two major players became. But I don't regret reading and have hope for the sequel, Firebrand.
YA lovers who want fast-paces movie-style action, a male narrator, aren't picky or have expectations for dystopian or post apocalyptic standards, if you don't mind love triangles at all the wrong angles, and are willing to wait to get to the good stuff.