Antony John managed to write a trilogy with three quite interesting books, each of which has a solid plot. “Renegade,” the last of the books in the series that began with “Elemental” and continued with “Firebrand,” is perfectly plotted and beautifully ended.
The “Elementals” live on Hatteras Island, and readers quickly find out that it’s the future, and civilization as we know it has been ravaged by a plague transmitted by rats. The small colony of Elementals live on the island, protected from the rats by the expanse of water between the island and the mainland. Between those two sites is Roanoke Island, that place of mystery dating back to John Smith.
The Elementals each have power over one of the elements — fire, water, wind and earth. Thomas, the protagonist, is the only child who doesn’t have an elemental power. He feels alienated from the others in the colony. When the adult Elementals, known as the Guardians, are kidnapped by pirates, it’s the younger generation who must find them and rescue them.
This leads to much more complex action than takes place in the first two books. In this third book, the Elementals are being pursued by the pirates, Thomas has discovered what his power is, and everyone is trying to find the “solution” or cure to the plague virus. Somehow, Thomas’ brother Griffin is the solution.
Even though readers might have read the second book a year ago, John’s powerful writing and characters will quickly engross the reader, and rereading the other books is not essential. Thomas is a great main character. He is humble, and his power includes something that makes it uncomfortable for people to touch him, so he has felt alone and untouchable for much of his life. In spite of that, he is brave, honest and moral.
While marching into what seems like sure death, Thomas says, “The others called after me as I began the slow march toward the intersection, but I didn’t look back. I had no time for condolences, or vague promises of a better future. The future was now. And it was bleak and evil and lonely.” The first person narrative gives readers insight into what Thomas is feeling and thinking when even the slightest touch from him causes others pain. And yet he risks his life over and over for them.
This trilogy is a great one for both reluctant readers and remarkable readers. It’s a fabulous combination of fantasy, scifi, adventure and historical fiction. Appropriate for fifth grade and up.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Dial Books, for review purposes.
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