Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Elemental by Emily White (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Space Opera, Paranormal, 
Publication.Date  June 5th 2012
Published By:  Spencer Hill Press  | 
WebsiteEmily White 

Elemental - Goodreads
My review copy:ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:

Just because Ella can burn someone to the ground with her mind doesn't mean she should.

But she wants to.

For ten years—ever since she was a small child—Ella has been held prisoner on an interstellar starship. Now that she has escaped, she needs answers.

Who is she? Why was she taken? And who is the boy with the beautiful green eyes who haunts her memories?

Is Ella the prophesied Destructor… or will she be the one who's destroyed?(Goodreads)

Gasping, I shielded my eyes from the bright, setting sun. The sky was on fire with beautiful reds and oranges. The dry, dead land stretched out before me, and it stopped the breath in my lungs. Years of nothingness had made me forget what beauty truly was.
With each generation, more and more offspring were born that were hypersensitive to the severely filtered light. Eventually, those creatures dominated the gene pool because all the others died from starvation and lack of sun.
"Oh by the way, my mysterious ability to create fire just might have something to do with why I'm on god's hit list."

     I am not a very harsh reader/reviewer. I tend to look at the positive side of things, and so my reviews are mostly either 4 or 5 stars. Rarely do they go down to 3 stars, and I believe I only gave 2 stars twice so far. I get a mild panic attack every time I have to write a negative review, and not because I am afraid to express my honest opinion. Not at all. I just can't stand the thought of hurting someone else's - an author's in this case - feelings. But every once in a while we all need to write a negative (or not so positive) review, and I realize that it's time for me to grow a back bone, man up and just.. put my honest thoughts out there. 

     I did not enjoy Elemental as much as I hoped I would. While it had enormous potential (with intriguing premise), it didn't quite live up to it. Emily White has a great imagination, maybe even too great, cause she obviously had so many ideas, so many world elements that she wanted to include, that it was literally mind-blowing. Unfortunately, not in a good way. I felt extremely overwhelmed while reading this book. Science Fiction is "a literature of ideas", filled with space travels, extraterrestrial beings, futuristic settings, weapons and technology, and while Elemental has all that, it also fails to rationally explain the alternative world it features. All the SF elements are very superficial, they're there, but they're not doing anything for the book. There are no potential solutions nor explanations to the various fictional elements, and therefore I am more willing to call it a space opera with paranormal elements, than an actual SF. 

     Elemental left me feeling confused and frustrated. I kept thinking that I must have missed something, must have blacked out and forgot a good chunk of the plot, because I just couldn't make sense of it. There are some interesting ideas embedded within its pages - freedom and its meaning, prophecies, dangerous abilities and many different cultures and religions - but inevitably, White's book suffers from near-terminal inability to tame the chaos and get everything organized and arranged in a comprehensive manner. Nothing - and I mean NOTHING - was explained properly, and while some may argue that the plot was purposefully crafted this way, and that SF allows a certain degree of vagueness and mysteriousness, I say: NO! I want to know why the main character was locked up on a prison-ship for ten years and by whom, I need to have more information about the world, the many different races and their cultures, the interspecies politics, and the prophecy that seemed to be the reason behind everything that happened in this novel. I need some answers. And Elemental does not provide any. 

     As hard as it was for me to follow the random and under-developed plot line, I did recognize the potential it held. Yes, it needs some serious editing, but Emily White created something that - if tweaked and polished - could be a real money-making page-turner. The plot line can be improved. The characters? Well, that's a whole different story. I found it practically impossible to connect with any of the characters, especially Ella. Her weirdly motivated behaviour made me frown and shake my head in bewilderment. One moment she was desperate to escape from the prison, save her life, see the sun and feel the wind on her skin, and then next thing you know she's doing everything to get herself killed. For no reason what-so-ever. Her bipolar personality really got on my nerves. She was childish, ungrateful, and - ultimately - unlikeable. Random people would risk their lives to try and help her and she would second guess their motives and act all crazy. One minute she would hate Malik with burning fierceness, and then next minute she would have a change of heart, rush of remorse and adoration, and she would try to sacrifice herself to protect him. Like I said, totally bipolar. No, I did not like Ella. I liked Malik and Meir much better, but at the same time wished their characters would be more fleshed-out and believable (trust me, no one is THAT patient when dealing with a bipolar basket-case like Ella). 

     And don't even get me started on the abilities she possessed. All I'm going to say is: After witnessing her handling her own powers, I wish she'd remained locked up. If the entire Universe's fate lies in Ella's hands, then we're all in deep doo doo. 

     There were, however, some aspects of this story that I really enjoyed. I loved Emily's descriptive prose. When she actually bothered to describe the setting or the character in detail, she did it in the utmost skilful and breathtaking way. Some of the passages are very evocative and vibrant, and I really wished she would include more of them throughout the book. There's no doubt in my mind that Emily White is a very talented, eloquent writer, with plenty of room to grow, and I'm certain that she will yet surprise us with something truly extraordinary. 

     Overall, Elemental just wasn't for me, but don't let my review discourage you from picking it up. I've seen some great, glowing reviews of this book around the blogosphere, and I'm sure that many people will fall in love with the vibrant, intriguing world that Emily created.

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Amy said...

Fantastic review Evie!! I am the type of person who need to know why things are the way they are or why something happens. I would be frustrated by the lack of answers too. It also sounds very overwhelming with too much packed in with no real explaining about it all. Sorry you didn't really enjoy this one, but you did a fabulous job explaining why it didn't work for you.

Bonnie said...

Evie, the thing that I loved about your review is you didn't just say. "Ugh I hated this book it wasn't for me." You really took the time to explain exactly *why* it didn't work for you - so don't feel bad at all about writing a negative review. You did it in the most positive or constructive way possible!

I have been wondering about this book for quite some time. I'm really not the hugest SF fan, but I thought it looke like it had some potential and could be promising. I think for now I'm going to skip this one. Thanks for all of your honest opinions!

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

Don't be too harsh on yourself, Evie! You did a good job of explaining why you didn't like the book, without just tearing it to pieces. Ella sounds like a frustrating character, and TBH, I'm kinda seeing what you mean about some of the issues you had. I don't like it when explanations, or worse, facts are just thrown at the pages of a book, without the follow-through!

Tanja - Tanychy said...

This is so not my type of the book. Thanks for the review...great one!! :)

Shane said...

What a wonderful review! I'm in awe. This sounded interesting but fizzled. Thanks for your honesty though.

new follower

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I'm sorry to hear that you weren't a fan. You really go into detail of why you didn't like it which is great, and I'm glad you were still able to find something that you enjoyed. I understand it's hard to write a negative review, but you can't love every book.

Tiffany Mahaffy said...

I have to point out my love of your use of doo doo :) I get your feeling of being over whelmed it is totally understandable and you should never feel bad about your reviews. Even though you did enjoy it you didn't tear it and the author apart. I will be giving this one a go and we will see how it goes.

Jaime Lester said...

It is always disappointing when you read a book and you can tell that it has the potential to be a great story but everything just doesn't add up. I actually have Elemental on my Kindle, and I have been looking forward to reading it. Now, I am a little sad.
:( Oh well, I think I will read it anyway. I like to give books a shot, even when the odds are against me.
It was great for me to read that you are a 4 or 5 star reviewer. I am the same way. It takes a LOT for me to just not like a book. I can usually see the potential in anything that I read. I have never understood how people can just not like book after book. Oh well, I may just be too easy to please.

Anonymous said...

Oh no ! :( I was thinking about getting a copy of this book, but now I might just borrow it from the library. I don't like feeling confused while reading either. It makes reading feel like homework rather than fun times. :/ Sorry this didn't work for you, Evie.
I'm glad you had some positive things to say as well though. Emily's writing seems really great. Hopefully, she'll grow as an author.
You might have written a negative review, but you were really professional in it. :)
Lovely review, Evie.

Isa said...

Don't feel bad about the review, it is a good balance of what you didn't like, why you didn't like it and the the things you appreciated in the book. I love Sci-Fi fiction but if things aren't explained I tend to get frustrated as well, I avoid books like that because it leaves a bad feeling afterwards.

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