One hundred years ago, an element-based, technologically advanced society was taken over by the Magi, a group whose energy directly opposed that of the Elementi. The coup was incomplete, however, as five children — one for each element, plus the High King — were spirited away from the carnage. The time has come for them to discover their powers and fight back.
The premise of this story reminded me a lot of an old WB-11 television show called Roswell: a developed nation is brutally taken over, and children with superpowers are sent to Earth for their own protection. The catch here, however, is that instead of crossing through outer space, the Elementi children pass through dimensions and time.
The book primarily focuses on the High King's discovery of his powers and his search for the rulers of air, water, fire, and earth. Background stories are given for each Elementi, however, and I found that I actually enjoyed those the most. Shenella's history was particularly touching, and it showed both her tender heart and strong will. In fact she, not Jake or Aras, was the most well-developed character in the book, with nuances and contradictions that were not present in the others.
Kiera's past was equally engrossing, but her personality all but vanished after she joined up with Mirim and Jake. The light hand with which the author delicately drew Shenella was absent with the other characters, particularly Mirim, whose harsh outline was formed with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer crashing through the floor. She and Jake were one-dimensional, and the one-line descriptions that Kiera made to resolve their argument effectively summed them up. The resolution of the conflict between them was simplistic, the stilted dialogue something I would expect to see in a book geared towards early readers and not middle grade.
Perhaps there would have been more room for character development had the story moved at a slower pace. Most of the book was rushed, and the text itself was often repetitively worded (and poorly punctuated). There was no time for me to absorb all of the revelations being made about the crystals and the Elementi, which makes me wonder how the heroes picked up on the proper use of the Matrix — yes, the Matrix — so easily. Personally, I felt a bit lost.
Children of the Elementi tries very hard to tell a fantastical coming-of-age tale. The delivery, however, left me wanting.
(Review copy provided by the author)