Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.
My selection for this week's WoW is perhaps a bit of a cheat. I've already read this book, but it's so fantastic that I absolutely must talk about it. This book is called Elemental by Antony John, and it is the first in a dystopian YA trilogy.
Goodreads Book Description (Publication Date: Nov. 21): A mysterious and powerful fantasy adventure from a Schneider Award winner.
In the near future, most of the population of the United States has been destroyed by the plague. The few remaining survivors live in colonies on the barrier islands off the East Coast. In one colony near Cape Hatteras, almost all the members have elemental powers and can control wind, water, earth, and fire. All but sixteen-year-old Thomas. When the Guardians, the powerful adult leaders, are kidnapped by pirates seeking to take over their colony, it is up to Thomas and a small group of teens to save them and preserve the mysteries of the island.
This book is fantastic and is going to be one of my ARC giveaways in September, signed by the author. It doesn't hurt that Antony John is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.
My Review: 5 out of 5 Stars
I would like to preface my review with some background so the reader can understand where I am coming from when I review a book from a trilogy. I have a love/hate relationship with trilogies. There are certain factors I always look for in a first book. It's hard to rate based on completeness until the entire trilogy is done. The first book always tends to be the "set up" book. So what I look for: the book in some ways is stand alone. While there are threads that are still hanging, we get a sense that the first story has been complete. I also want to know that those threads are interesting enough to stick around for another two books. Thirdly, the characters have to be captivating enough to want to see more of them. It is a marvel to me how many books fall into one of these traps. Either it spends too much time setting up the next two books without being a book of its own, or it is so complete that I don't actually feel like I need to read any more of the books.
Antony John does not fall into these traps. Elemental is a dark, brooding book that opens up with secrets upon secrets. The protagonist, Thomas, is apparently the only one in the Colony that doesn't have any powers to call upon the elements. This makes him an outcast-- to the point where no one can even bear to touch him. He has two friends that are as different as night and day and hint to a bit of a love triangle-- Rose and Alice. When a storm comes and their parents and the Guardians of the Colony disappear, Thomas and his friends need to discover the secrets that have remained hidden for years in order to save themselves and their loved ones.
I spent the first several chapters confused. But the tone and the interesting backstory of the characters kept me going until the secrets started revealing themselves. I think all of this was completely deliberate by the author. This book is written in first person, so all that we know is what Thom knows, which isn't very much. So he is as confused as we are. When he learns of information, it is the first time both of us know this information. I think this set up worked extremely well for the plotting of the book. And the secrets-- what bombshells. I almost thought there couldn't be any more and they kept coming, most in the last half of the book. While the last secret was something that had crossed my mind, it brought up so many questions that this didn't matter. I was hooked. As for the characters, I continue to enjoy Antony John's female characters who are strong, brave, resourceful and many times much more so than his male characters. I'm okay with this because Thomas is a likeable character and has three books to grow and change in (which I am sure he will), but Alice blows me away. She is daring and fearless. She reminds me of Tris in Divergent and I want to see more of her. Rose is less fascinating but what she lacks in intrigue she makes up for in aching sweetness.
Needless to say, I want to know more about what is going on, what has happened before and what is going to happen next. This is the perfect first book to a trilogy; we have a sense of completeness and yet, there are many places where the next two books can go-- and we want to follow for as long as we can. The characters are terrific; well developed but there is room for even more development. And there are characters that still remain mysterious, and I am sure we will learn more about. I highly recommend Elemental and can only believe that this trilogy can only get better. Antony John has written a completely different novel than his first two, which is in itself a triumph; but the fact that he has made it immensely compelling is the greater victory.
I hope you'll all join me in a month to sign up for this terrific book!
Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Insurgent and The Intern's Tale!
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