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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Elemental" by Antony John (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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OVERVIEW: 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. 

FORMAT: Elemental is part one of a trilogy and is 320 pages. It is a YA novel that mixes in a lot of adventure, a slight romance, and mystery. The setting is sometime in the near future with no real definite date given.

Elemental was published by Dial on November 21, 2012.

ANALYSIS: Ever since the popularity of books like the Hunger Games, dystopia YA books have become all the rage. Every writer and publisher seems to be jumping on the bandwagon in hopes of making the next big dystopia novel.

Unfortunately, I don't see Elemental having the major appeal that Hunger Games had, but I do see it having a slight following mainly due to its rather unique-ish plot element that involves pirates and elemental magic and tons of adventure.

Elemental's major strength is the constant non-stop action and adventure. There was constant non-stop action literally from about the second or third chapter until the end of the book. The characters were taken on a lengthy boat ride across the bay, there were storms, pirates invading, people dying, and all sorts of things going on.

One of the benefits of having this non-stop action is that the book constantly moves. There is no real lull in the plot, no part of the book where the plot seems to drag. Instead, readers are quickly moved from one problem to the next without really dwelling on things. I honestly feel that this fast pace for the book works as a major advantage as it's hard to get bored with a book that moves this fast.

I believe the non-stop action would definitely appeal to anyone who is looking for a fast paced book or anyone looking for lots of action. However, the non-stop action comes at a price – character development.

I really didn't feel anything for any of the characters. Readers follow the main character, Thomas, throughout the whole book. However, despite Thomas being a constant the whole book I felt nothing for him.  This inability to connect with the characters also sort of ruined the romance part of the book. There was romance developing and due to the fact that I didn't seem to know or care about the characters, I didn't care what happened romance wise.

Another major strength of Elemental that I really feel kept me hooked on the book is the use of pirates. No, these aren't your Jack Sparrow pirates. These are true pirates; Ones that go around scaring people, using intimidation to get their way, and just plain bullies of the sea. I don't know why pirates aren't used more in books, but I think it was a refreshing element that really set Elemental apart from the rest of the books.

A warning should be given as this entire book is a setup for book 2. In fact, it sort of ends in a cliff-hanger that will leave you waiting for the next book. I

Overall, Elemental was a delight to read. It was fast paced, filled with action, and had a unique 'elemental magic' twist that really kept me reading until the end. I am hoping the lack of character development is resolved in future books, as I really see potential with the series.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I do like fast-paced YA novels but I probably won't spend my money on this.

After the Hunger Games I planned to avoid books that clearly are just marketed to fit that YA dystopia boom "niche". I did read a few in the end and encountered the same problems you describe here (plus, some of the books I read were everything but fast-paced and I just chucked them).

This is why I think negative (even if not completely negative) reviews are important. There are so many books published that it's difficult to filter what goes on your wishlist and what doesn't. So thanks again. This was very helpful.

Cindy said...

I'm trying hard to wait to the second book to see if character development improves.

I can name in detail the land, the plot and all the action. But if you were to ask me about the characters, I don't think I could tell you much about them. I know what elemental magic they hold and what they did action wise, but not much else.

You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Cindy the character development was almost nonexistent. Which hindered the plot because I didn't really care what happened to the main characters. For that reason I see no reason to give book number 2 a try.

It wasn't badly written and the plot had potential but overall it was just blah.

Cindy said...

I have to admit I'm a sucker for series. I'm always willing to give book 2 a try in almost every series.

There are very few series that I have disliked so much that I stopped at book 1. However, there are a lot of series that I have read book 2 and been like "Why didn't I like book 1?".

The writing was great. I felt it flowed and didn't lag. It was just the pesky character development.

Scheherazade said...

As a reader the lack of character development turns me off. As a writer though I'm interested in the action scenes since I'd really like to make my own better. Plus there's pirates, which are awesome and we don't see enough of like you said. I'll have to think about it.

Camille Picott said...

Too bad there wasn't a lot of character development, but I've always got room on my shelf for a fast-paced story. I agree, there are not enough books with pirates!


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