Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block

Title: The Elementals
Series: Standalone
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Available: Now
Reading Level: Adult/New Adult?

Source: Amazon Vine

Synopsis via Goodreads:

The Elementals is on one level a contemporary story about a young woman, Ariel Silverman, facing the challenges of her first years away at college in Berkeley, California, while her mother battles cancer at home in Los Angeles. But the book takes on deeper, stranger meanings when we contend with Ariel's obsession with the disappearance of her best friend, Jeni, who vanished without a trace a few years before. Her emptiness of spirit seems finally to find some healing with three mysterious, beautiful and seductive young people living in a strange old house in the Berkeley hills. But at what price?

My thoughts:

The Elementals was my first experience with Francesca Lia Block. I know her other series has quite a following, and I've been eager to check her out.

This isn't like any book I have ever read. It was bizarre and addictive, which I find so ironic now that I've reached the end. Main character, Ariel, is spiraling out of control after the disappearance of her best friend and the announcement of her mother's cancer. She heads off to Berkley where BFF, Jeni, was last seen, planning not only to pursue a higher education, but also the truth about what happened to her friend. Once there she is quickly thrust into the role of outcast and bullied by the cool kids. I thought the whole "mean kids" angle seemed slightly cliche and did a disservice to what is a truly brilliant plot. Thankfully, I was able to look past this and embrace the rest of the novel.

The entire time I read I was baffled (for the lack of a better word). Is it a mystery, fantasy, or was I simply lost in the the thoughts of a character whose mind had fractured under the weight of suffocating grief? I won't tell you because this discovery is what makes this novel so special.

The writing is something I just got lost in. Reading late into the night, holding my breath, anticipating what was yet to come. During several chapters I was shocked to find myself covered in goosebumps. It isn't often a book can evoke chills. I've read other reviews where the writing is called disjointed, but I found that to be part of the charm. It helps to enhance how truly lost Ariel is and rang so true to her character and her trials. This is a novel that I know will stay with me and not blend into the shelves like the many before it.  

Quotable Quotes:

“It’s hard to remember what you fall in love with. Usually it is an expression in the eyes, an exchange, or a gesture or the sound of a voice, a word spoken. Those things can get blended with the atmosphere around you at the time — a fragrance in the air, a play of light, even music — so that they become almost one with each other and when you see or smell or hear the memories of a place you feel the love again, but as a pang of loss. Sometimes the feelings get connected so deeply to your body that even your own skin, your own eyes in the mirror remind you of what you no longer have. Sometimes it only takes a few things for someone to attach the way I did — enough hunger, enough loneliness, enough loss, someone who will feed you and touch you and listen. Sometimes attachment — call it love — is more complex than that. When you are in the state I was in, love can be tied up with other things, like excitement and danger, and the desire to know what really happened, what actually took place.”

Cover Thoughts:

Stunning! Nuff said :)


  1. I really love her books!! sounds like this one was just as awesome as the others!

  2. I've read one of Francesca Lia Block's books, and it was... both weird but appealing too. I'm definitely going to pick this up. Great review!