Book Review: ‘Elemental’ by Antony John

Posted: 6 October 2015 in Book reviews
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Synopsis

After a plague wipes out most of mankind, a small group of survivors have taken up refuge on Hatteras Island. That was long before Thomas was born. The Colony has been all he has ever known. And yet among them he is an outsider as he has no element. No matter how weak their power, every other person in the colony possesses the power of an element. His father and older brother both control fire, his younger brother can sense in the earth, and others can sense storms and in water. There are also hidden powers; powers none of the Guardians want their children to know or even understand. Like Thomas’ younger brother Griffin’s premonitions. Because he has no element, the others shun him and treat him terribly.

One day, their seemingly peaceful life takes a sudden turn for the worse when a storm appears that Guardian Kyte somehow didn’t sense. All the children and Guardian Lora are sent to the neighbouring Roanoke Island to wait it out. Griffin senses something bad is about to happen, but no one knows what. As the storm abates, Lora dies and Thomas hopes that that was what the premonition was about. Ananias and Eleanor head back to the colony to make sure it was safe to go back, but never return. The kids see smoke on the island and know something bad has happened. They head back across the sound and find the colony destroyed and their families gone. They notice a ship in the distance, but only too late see that it is a pirate ship. They quickly find the important things that Alice knows are hidden around the island and head back across the sound.

On Roanoke, the facade surrounding their past begins falling apart as the pirates work on making it across the sound to find the kids. Thomas senses someone else is on the island and is surprised to learn that his grandmother has been alive all this time as an exile. She confirms all their suspicions and pieces together the truth of the colony’s past and how they once lived on Roanoke Island. She also reveals what Thomas’ true power is. It explains why everyone has treated him as they have all his life. Now that they finally have some answers, they have little time as the pirates were almost to them. Their only option is to use Thomas and Griffin as a diversion for the others to get to the pirate’s ship to rescue their families. But will their plan succeed, or will it only end up in their final capture?

My Thoughts

Sometimes, the best books we find are the ones recommended to us. We were perusing through the shelves of a secondhand bookshop in NYC a month or so ago and I had found many second and third books in series and was slowly filling up my library queue when this book was recommended to me. I looked into it and loved the cover art and the premise so I added to my queue. Needless to say, I’m glad I did.

A trend I’ve seen popping up in a lot of teen literature is the frustrating love triangles. This series is no different. We saw it in parts in Harry Potter, and more obvious in Twilight and The Hunger Games, among others. This series is no different. The thing that didn’t irritate me with the love angle in this one is how it related to the plot. There was a reason why Rose always shied away from him despite her obvious interest. It also wasn’t the sole motivating factor behind his actions. Sure it was one of the reasons, a reason which Alice kept bringing up while also showing her obvious jealousy, but it was a subtle enough reason as to not overshadow the more important reasons, such as surviving and saving their parents.

One of the questions I had was how and why do these people have powers? Sure, it’s cool that they can manipulate elements and all, but how did they get these powers? Are they the only ones who have them? Why are certain powers more esteemed than others? These are questions I hope will be answered in the next book as they really gave no clues in this first one.

I really liked the characters. I loved the defiance of Alice. She is a very complex character with secrets. She is very headstrong and is not afraid to stand up to those she feels are wrong. She’s awesome. Thomas is a bit more complacent. He has been ostracised all his life for reasons he cannot comprehend (until the end of the book). Rather than let this make him angry, he uses his energy on protecting his younger brother Griffin. Personally, I find that a beautiful character trait. The way he reacts to how others treat him shows how good of a person he is. Rose is probably one of the weakest characters. Rather than stand up to her father, who is an egoist, she sheepishly obeys him despite knowing he is wrong. Neither her or her brother are emotionally strong enough to survive like Alice and Thomas. The good thing is that Rose begins to shed her weak exterior towards the end of the book.

All in all, the book is wonderful. I really enjoyed reading it. You can tell it has been well researched and developed. The writing is fluid and entertaining. It is definitely one I recommend for fantasy/teen fantasy lovers. Enjoy 😉

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