The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell
Series: Vespertine Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, historical fantasy, romance
Published on June 4, 2013
Published by Houghton
Read From: 9.7.13 - 9.8.13
In 1917, war spells the death of one age in Europe; the rise of motion pictures heralds the birth of a new one in America. Caught between both are two extraordinary souls, bound by destiny.
Kate Witherspoon has lived a bohemian life with her artist parents, and she's infused with their wanton disregard for social norms. She's determined to become a film director, and she doesn't intend to do that in a corset.
Meanwhile, midwestern farm boy Julian Birch has inherited the tenacity and wanderlust that fueled his parents' adventures. War calls, but not for him - yet he refuses to let his disability define him.
Strangers driven by a shared vision, Kate and Julian set out separately for Los Angeles, the city of dreams. There, they each struggle to find their independence. When they finally meet, the runaways realize their true legacy: the ability to triumph over death, and over time. But as their powerful parents before them learned, all magic comes with a price.
Characters: Out of all of the characters in this entire trilogy; out of all of the protagonists in this entire trilogy, Kate Witherspoon is not my favorite. That doesn't mean I didn't like her, because I did a bit. She wasn't an awful protagonist; it's just out of all of the books, she just isn't my favorite. Kate is spunky and knows exactly what she wants, and doesn't mind pushing to achieve her goals. What I didn't like about her was she was also flighty, and tried too hard to be unconventional. She still fit her era, but I think the Author tried a little too hard to make her the "modern woman" of the time. About the only thing Kate didn't do was smoke a cigarette, but I imagine she would have if given the chance. She never annoyed me, but she just wasn't a favorite. Mollie, Kate's friend who runs off to Los Angeles with her to make movies, was trouble through and through. I didn't trust her the moment she popped into the story, and I dearly wished Kate had been as smart about it. The second protagonist, Julian, was easier for me to like. He was sensible and hardworking and never once asked for help. Nor did he get angry if people tried to because he was a cripple.
The Romance: Obviously, Julian and Kate end up together at some point. Reading two of these books, I knew how it would play out in the third. A boy and girl, both with extraordinary powers - yeah, they're soulmates. Oddly enough, though, the romance actually doesn't appear until the very end, and I wished it hadn't. Because it suddenly felt extremely rushed, and I'm sorry, but I couldn't buy the whole "they have a special connection" ploy to explain away why they were so attached to one another after so short a time.
Plot: Here is where The Elementals began to stumble. There is no denying that whatever your feelings are toward Kate, she's an interesting character, as are all of the characters in this story. And the Author's writing is captivating. But the plot itself is practically nil. The Vespertine and The Springsweet had much more of a plot. Much of The Elementals is spent establishing Julian and Kate's lives before they discovered their powers, their lives after they discovered them, and how they cope in Los Angeles. A character from the past (as in the very first book) appears, hinting at ominous things to come, but it takes a good long while for him to become relevant to the rest of the characters' lives. And when he does . . . . Well, I'll talk about that in the conclusion. So there really isn't much of a plot, but the characters and the writing does make up for it.
Believability: Nothing to complain about.
Writing Style: Third person, past tense. Each chapter switches between Julian and Kate, and sometimes it follows the "ominous character from the past." The Author's writing style has always drawn me in. It's not breath-takingly beautiful, but it has its own pretty rhythm to it, and fits the era very well. Her descriptions are simple, but pleasing and intriguing. I really didn't notice the lack of plot until the end, because I was so taken in by the writing.
Conclusion: The ominous character finally comes into play! But what happens is so sudden and so horribly pointless (actually, it's a lot like the end of Romeo and Juliet) that I was a little disappointed. I knew much couldn't happen, because there weren't enough pages, but it still left me thinking, "That was the purpose of their powers? Really? That's kinda lame - and depressing." So if someone asked me, "How is this trilogy?" I would tell them that the first two books are good, and the third is a good end to it, but it's not as good as the other two. I didn't dislike it, but it isn't my favorite out of the three.
Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fifteen-and-up, fans of historical fantasy, romance, and paranormal.
Others in This Trilogy: