Release Date: November 21, 2012
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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.
I really, like really really, liked this book. It was definitely something different than my usual reads. It's dystopian, but there's a fantastical element that I really liked. Though elemental magic is a fairly common aspect of today's YA literature, I really like Antony's take on it and that for me made this book so much better. It was an absolutely joy to read and I will definitely be returning to it. It was full of action with a touch of romance, and while it was far from perfect that didn't keep me from really loving it.
Thomas is our awesome hero. When we first meet him, he's somewhat of an outcast in his society. He is the only person who doesn't have control of an element, and that makes him feel useless. We'll later find out that that is actually not the reason that he is set apart, but that goes into spoiler territory. Thomas was definitely a unique hero. He's not afraid to take control of the situation and I really loved the deep love and loyalty he had to his family. It's pretty obvious that he would do anything for them.
THE LOVE INTERESTS
Rose I would have to argue is underdeveloped. I just didn't know enough about her to have strong feelings for her either way. She's very sweet and caring, but that's about it. Still, she's strong, too, and I think that the others definitely underestimate her sometimes. She's willing to go through a lot to keep the people she cares about safe, and she definitely isn't a coward. Though her bravery isn't always obvious, it does exist. I would have loved to see more development of her character, because she has potential.
I actually have no clue if Alice is actually really a genuine love interest or not, but since I am too lazy to try and think of a name for another header she is going here anyway. Alice is probably the closest besides Thomas to being an outcast. Her element of fire is weak, but her inner fire is extremely strong and she isn't afraid to tell the others off. And as we'll later find out, she has many secrets of her own. She's a dynamic character, and I liked her role in the story.
Ah, the plot. It was action-driven, that's for sure. Every event in the story was a seeming chain with very little deviation, such as romance. For the most part one event clearly followed another. While this linear progression was easy to follow, it at times made the story feel a bit superficial.
I thought the dystopian world was built very nicely. There was basically a Plague that wiped everyone on the "mainland" out, leaving the survivors to live on islands, such as Thomas's colony. Yet, their colony has kept secrets from them for all their lives. We find out that there are so many things that their parents haven't told them, thinking it was in their best interests. But in the end, it's much better to truly know.
I even thought the whole pirate thing was interesting. Pirates isn't a common thing to see in YA, probably because they're overused and clichéd. But the ones in this book weren't. Their leader is far from ordinary, and they're after something very specific. Not wealth. Not power. Something else.
And, well, the elemental magic. Elemental magic has become an extremely common thing. You can find it in many YA books now, each with maybe a little difference each time. I enjoyed the way the magic was handled in the book. More than that, there's more than just elemental magic floating around—there are other types of magic too.
I mean, despite its imperfections, this truly was a joy to read. The characters were a fun bunch, and the plot was incredibly high-stakes. Very, very high-stakes. And I thought the way it was handled by the teenagers was excellent considering their situation.
It's a matter of life and death, and the fear is that someone will have to die before it is all over. And the truth is, some will. The question is, who?
This book only had a light touch of romance, but it was the perfect amount for this particular book. I think it's pretty obvious that Thomas loves Rose, as he goes to pains to prove it. Also, it's obvious in the way he talks about her, and the way he'd do anything for her. Though Rose can seem aloof, it eventually turns out that she has a pretty good reason and that she really cares about him too, and has some sort of feelings for him. It's again obvious that she would do anything for him. Though I'm not sure if Alice and Thomas's connection is actually a romantic one or not, they do have some sort of connection, and I think that there are feelings between them, although I'm far from sure.
This probably wasn't the most sophisticated writing I've ever read, but it was fun. Its conciseness really, I think, captured the spirit of the action, which was fantastic. I was the type of writing suited for an action-packed novel. However, it didn't do the best job of capturing Thomas's voice, in my opinion. Sometimes he sounded the way I thought he should, and then sometimes he sounded like he was eighty. This flip-flopping was confusing and odd, but eventually I got used to it. Though, hopefully, this is something that will improve.
This book definitely ended with a cliffhanger. Many of the questions in the book have been finally answered, but still there are many that haven't been. We don't know everything yet, and a revelation made on the very last page shocked me especially. I never could have seen it coming. There is, however, a massive jump in logic that I didn't agree with. It majorly intrigued me, although it also frustrated me. I get what Antony was coming to do by leaving this book with such a major cliffhanger but I don't think I agree with it.
I'll be looking forward to seeing what happens next for sure! This book has some real potential and I honestly believe that we'll see improvement. Overall it satisfied me. So, would I recommend it? Absolutely! Maybe not so much to the older crowd, though I'm sure there will be people there who love it. Even so, I'd have to say that this book is probably better suited to those readers who are younger who I think will gobble something epic like this right up.
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