ARC Review: Elemental: The First by Alexandra May

Paperback: 280 Pages

Series: Primord Series #1

Publisher: Pauma Publishing

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Just who is Halíka Dacomé?

To Rose Frost, moving house every six months is normal. Another new town here, another new school there, her ability to adapt is as easy as breathing. But everything changes when her parents go overseas and Rose moves in with her grandmother. She enjoys meeting new friends and catching up with old ones from her childhood holidays — except now she must hide a precious secret from everyone, a gift from birth that defies modern day science. 

Her dreams become riddled with a warrior woman called Halíka Dacomé, but are they visions or messages from the future? She starts her own investigation but encounters more questions than answers. Living right on the edge of Warminster in Wiltshire doesn’t help with its folklore and myths about strange lights in the sky and ghost stories of the Salisbury Plain

Not only that, her troubles really take hold one night when the mysterious Aiden Deverill with his alluring smile, his gorgeous dark looks and hypnotising blue eyes, saves her from a freak fire. Or did he? 

For Rose, her new life is beginning but she soon realises that despite assurances people are not always what they seem. What she always believed to be a happy family and a friendly town soon turns on its head when she discovers that her family secret, Aiden Deverill and the truth behind Halíka Dacomé is at the heart of the whole conspiracy.

I want to be perfectly honest: this is not a review of the book as a whole. I couldn’t have finished it if my life depended on it. My galley is 147 pages long and I got as far as page 57, and will be reviewing those pages – although I have a sneaking suspicion the book doesn’t get better/changes drastically past that mark. It saddens me to have to rate a novel, any novel, one star but there you have it.

I had issues with Elemental from the first till the last page I read. The prologue, written in the third person, is so full of unwarranted adjectives it’s grating.  Although the purplish prose changes to a more bearable (fewer silly comparisons, personifications etc) read, the quality doesn’t improve greatly. What does change completely is the narrative, from the third to the first person, from Rose’s POV, for the rest of the story – I can only hope and assume.

Rose Frost, the main character, is moving in with her grandmother, Daisy, while her parents are leaving for the Middle East and her sister is staying in school. The night before the move, her mother gives her a special bracelet that stabs into her wrist, a gift she’s not supposed to ever remove or tell people about.  Up until this point, I was under the impression the ability she was sure to possess was yet to be revealed, but apparently both her parents and her grandmother know about what she’s capable of, which is healing others and herself, better senses, etc.

Back in the town she used to spend her childhood summers in, she reconnects with long-lost friends, becomes closer to Daisy and meets new people (read gorgeous hunks), too. She keeps having weird, prophetic dreams and no one is willing to give her the God honest truth, so she starts investigating things on her own.

Oh, where to start? Firstly, Rose is SUCH a Mary Sue. She’s absolutely gorgeous – lean, long logs/long, copper locks – but she thinks she’s only pretty and is jealous of her sister’s looks.  She’s nice, she’s sweet, she’s good to all. One of a kind, totally special. Also, she’s (supposedly) very smart. Yeah, yawn.

Secondly, she fancies herself Nancy Drew, yet she can’t seem to figure out the simplest of things. I swear, every single character apart from her resembles the villain from old, bad movies. All they’re missing are the shifty eyes and fake, swirly moustaches.

Everyone is acting weird about the move, the bracelet is such a weird gift, she hears one ominous dialogue after another, witnesses one weird situation after another, but she’s incapable of putting two and two together.

Frankly, to have all these things explained later in the book, as great reveals, when your reader figured it out from page one, is disrespectful. And annoying. I don’t want a heroine who can’t keep up with me.

There’s no subtlety when introducing new characters, new ideas. There’s no sense of anticipation. Everything in this book is very predictable. Big mysteries are so obvious it’s insulting.

Lastly, Rose’s interactions with the other characters, the choices she makes, the direction the storyline takes, they’re all absurd. Nonsensical to the extreme. I kept reading, and by the time I got to her first talk with Morgan ( one of the hot guys), I couldn’t stop saying “Seriously? No..wait, seriously?”.

In the end, I decided I had better things to do then punish myself reading this. Sad, but true.

*I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. That in no way influenced my review.

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One thought on “ARC Review: Elemental: The First by Alexandra May

  1. Yes, many of the things you said are true, and I felt a similar reaction as I was reading this novel. However, I kept in mind that this book was written for teenagers and teens tend to like Mary Sue characters. (Mainly because they picture themselves as the Mary Sue their reading about. Kind of like how some women do the same thing with Romance Novels)
    The story line did get better. Rose seems to be more book smart than common sense smart, which is fairly typical of a lot of teenagers. She’s also in denial about her dreams and how it all connects to the rest of her life.
    I also kept in mind that this is a science fiction novel that focuses on a particular character from an English legend. So, when a person starts to read this novel they already have a sense that the main character will have a ton of Mary Sue characteristics.
    However, by the end of the novel you come to realize that not all the characters like her and that her aura of sorts is what draws people to her. That makes you wonder if the feelings that characters, like Morgan, have for her are real and not superimposed. Or that they fear her more than anything else and want to stay on her good side.
    For a first time publication by a new author, I thought Alexandra May did a fairly good job. The second half of the book moved faster and ended with a cliff hanger. It will be interesting to see how Alexandra May adjusts her writing and story line to compensate from all the reviews.

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