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Dangerous (Element Preservers) (Volume 1) Paperback – September 25, 2013
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The lead Ria is not entirely likeable in the beginning - a little spoilt brattish and harsh with her judgements - but in a realistic way that has a certain charm. Instead of being instantly on the side of the underdog, she had a much more normal reaction of if it's dangerous to me, kill it. Frankly, it was refreshing, but also a little alienating because I am so accustomed to the heroine being empathetic - but that's more a reflection of my indoctrination by stereotyping than any reflection on the book or author.
Once I accustomed myself to her, I was drawn into her world. I thought I would find it unsophisticated and a bit boring - I'm in my 30s reading about late teens in University, there's a point at which the concerns of teens seem trivial ie what outfit to wear, and how to handle romantic interludes - but, like watching Buffy, or Twilight, there's an appeal to reminiscing.
Under the teen angst, there's a sophisticated story about a world divided by a magical apartheid - those who have "pure elements", those who have elements too weak to manifest, and those who are afflicted by a magical disease. Reminded me a little of Andrew Irvine's Afflicted: PSI.
We are revealed the intricacies and secrets of her world as Ria discovers it, and she has lived a fairly sheltered life.
The romance is exceptionally well played. I don't know if I'm on Team Michael or Team Adrian at this point, both have their own appeal.
I finished #1 about 30 minutes ago, and I'm writing this review having purchased #2 - so I highly recommend it.
Preserve one's own element, stick to it, don't intermarry between elements: sounds a simple enough rule, doesn't it? Maybe in an ideal world, people would have continued to heeded this small stricture of the God of Magic, who provided the elements initially. But any society is hardly ever ideal-and when people forget, or turn to science, or embrace the concept that such rules are simply legend and myth-then people forget, and intermarry, and elements mix. So offspring were born who possessed an element, but only weakly; and sometimes there simply was no element at all in a particular individual. So Magic itself began to decline, weakening and diluting. Sometimes, those without an element found they could acquire one-if only temporarily-by murder. As we all know, murder rarely satisfies a killer for very long-and elements acquired by murder don't remain-so those under the control of "magic disease," discovered to be contagious through intimate transmission, are almost always feared and dreaded-even to the point of becoming murder victims themselves.
At the University of Magic, our heroine Ria, who possesses Element of Fire, and her best friend Paula, of the Element of Air and a scientific research-oriented mind) are first-year students, with the goal of learning to use their elements. Paula wants also to find the cure for "magic disease" and eventually eradicate it. All four elements (fire, air, water, earth) attend the University, so naturally the odds are they will encounter individuals who hold other elements, and even feel drawn to some of them. A "magic disease" carrier, Adrian, is also a University of Magic student, perhaps because he had been orphaned and society really knows nowhere else to place him.
Going by the settings, the characterizations, and the issues, I believe this novel would appeal to readers who enjoy YA Paranormal, and perhaps YA Fantasy.
#3.5 No One (novella from Adrian's point of view)
#5 Untitled (January 2014)
I thought Dangerous was a very original and unique paranormal/fantasy. As noted in the book synopsis, the story focuses on a group of young adults who attend the University of Magic, "a special university for those who have one of the four elements: fire, water, air and earth." Each character's lives are affected in some way by "magic disease, which surged as a result of bad mixing of elements, turns people into cold-hearted killers, who have a strong desire to take someone's element as they do not have their own." The characters either know someone with the disease, they are seeking out more information on the condition, or they are focused on finding a cure. Family secrets, social/political views on the disease, and conspiracy theories were interesting and kept me reading. I also enjoyed the characters and how their relationships with each other seemed to shift throughout the story. Overall, I liked this book, although I really wanted to like it more. The terminology is very simplistic, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and I felt the flow of the conversations/scenes/storyline affected by ability to fully lose myself in the book. (view spoiler) The ending leaves the reader with a cliffhanger that provides motivation to continue the series. I will likely continue the series.
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It all stems around a certain theme bit really goes nowhere. And sets you up to buy another book. No thanks.