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From star YA author Francesca Lia Block comes an adult novel about a student haunted by the disappearance of her best friend, desperate to find and withstand the truth. 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 From star YA author Francesca Lia Block comes an adult novel about a student haunted by the disappearance of her best friend, desperate to find and withstand the truth. 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?


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From star YA author Francesca Lia Block comes an adult novel about a student haunted by the disappearance of her best friend, desperate to find and withstand the truth. 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 From star YA author Francesca Lia Block comes an adult novel about a student haunted by the disappearance of her best friend, desperate to find and withstand the truth. 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?

30 review for The Elementals

  1. 5 out of 5

    black lamb

    ** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS ** hnnnnnnggghhhhhh. i assume this is supposed to be an adult book because of all the explicit sex in it, but francesca lia block's background as a young adult author shines through, painfully so. the characters are flat and one-dimensional. it's supposed to take place in a college (berkeley, specifically) but it reads much more like your typical high school cardboard cutout stereotypes - the bullying jock football players, the preppy popular girls, the outcast got ** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS ** hnnnnnnggghhhhhh. i assume this is supposed to be an adult book because of all the explicit sex in it, but francesca lia block's background as a young adult author shines through, painfully so. the characters are flat and one-dimensional. it's supposed to take place in a college (berkeley, specifically) but it reads much more like your typical high school cardboard cutout stereotypes - the bullying jock football players, the preppy popular girls, the outcast goth girl, the sleazy punk guys. it read much more like a high schooler's wish fulfillment story. i should also mention that the characterization of the mc being really unpopular and tormented carrie-style (seriously? tampons? seriously??) at berkeley because she's not tanned and blonde and preppy and wears converse and baggy hoodies (SWEATSHIRTS AT COLLEGE!! THE HORROR!!) and has waist-length brown hair is utterly ridiculous. like, down here in san diego? sure, although that would still read super degrassi to me. up in la? absolutely, yeah. in berkeley? are you kidding me?? her and her creepy friends and her dead best friend would have been the hipster queens. the plot drags on and wanders. really, this book should have been half as long as it was. this is, as with many of block's stories, at its heart a love story. it's the story about the mc (i won't call her by name because it irritates me when book characters i hate have my name) falling in love with some dude with no personality except being hot and tortured and shit. this means that if you're not really into heteronormative romance, this is a ridiculously boring book. there are a ton of subplots in here that don't really go anywhere and seem sort of thrown in there as afterthoughts - the mc's missing best friend is ostensibly what the book is supposed to focus on but the mc admits at many points that she completely forgot she was supposed to be searching for what happened to her. great. then the mc's mother gets cancer, and it's abundantly clear that block doesn't really know what to do with that. it's just kind of... there. not as a study about how a young person reacts to a beloved parent getting sick that way, but as something to give the mc to be even more tortured and broody about. there's a lot of flb's trademark magical realism prose here, but... i'm not sure if it's my age or the actual writing, but none of it felt magical to me; it all felt pretentious. there was especially one scene that i absolutely hated that highlighted that pretentiousness. ok, so the mc has this creative writing class where the professor plays favourites and she is not one of them. the professor praises another girl's short story, a thinly-veiled self-insert thing; the girl, who is of course pretty and blonde and preppy and traditionally feminine, writes a piece with a character clearly based off herself. the mc criticizes this... when she just did the same thing herself. there's some very subtle moments in it that highlighted exactly what i hate in ya/a fiction, and then some very not-subtle moments of intense girl-hate that is a huge disappointment from francesca lia block of all people. seriously, almost every other female character in this book is either a cartoonishly evil bullying bitch or outright homicidal. speaking of cardboard cutouts, the mc's english teacher is actually named "melinda story." like, really? i also thought it was weird that she kept being referred to by her full name or as melinda. like yo bitch that's your professor, show some respect, dang. not even a single "professor story," which to be fair is a really dumb name. she might as well have named the love interest john sexypants. the mc was obnoxious. the bullying subplot was really dumb, like it was this really shallow understanding of how bullying works and really out of place in a story set at college, not middle school. the mc's major flaw was being a paint-by-numbers outcast cipher for the (presumably teenaged) reader to project herself on - which, on that note, i'm so, so sick of the "oh i'm just a plain jane! i'm too skinny and pale to be pretty, not like all these tanned blonde bitches who are jealous and mean to me! i wonder when a boy will finally take down my frumpy ponytail and get me to wear lip gloss! SURPRISE, I WAS HOT ALL ALONG!!" trope. it's not cute in young adult, it's not cute in adult. why do we feel the need to punish sexually confident young women in our fiction? the treatment of characters like lauren (the stereotypically bitchy blonde tan airhead roommate) and jessica (whose major crime according to the mc apparently is being blonde and liking jimmy choo) was maddening. there's a song that always comes to mind when i see this in fiction: 'we've made you all the peasants and we've made ourselves the kings our queens are still subordinate as an angel without wings but we make it easy to belong which means it's easy to be wrong put some plastic in your tits, you'd look better as a blonde' we've set up these beauty and sexuality standards - to be tall and tanned and blonde and hyperfeminine - and then when women conform to them, we punish them. we write them as airheads, as idiots, as bitches. we call them sluts. we need to not be that girl under any circumstances. we cement that madonna/whore complex, because we have to be sure we're on the right side of it. the new fauxminist young adult literary theme is i'm not like the other girls; i'm special. make no mistake; just because john graves isn't edward cullen doesn't mean this dumb book doesn't fall into the same tired paranormal romance genre where all girls are inferior to the mc who is special in some way, mostly by virtue of her plainness, her innocence, her sexual purity. every other girl represents a threat, so they either have to be villified (lauren, jessica, tania), too old (melinda, mrs silverman, pierre), damaged goods (coraline/rebecca) or dead (jeni). i'm sick of it. we're better than this. francesca lia block is better than this, but it's a trap she's fallen into. has she always been like this, or is it a recent development? have i only just noticed it now? i can't tell. it was in pink smog, it was in wasteland; there were hints of it in cherokee bat and the goat guys and i was a teenage fairy. i will give this book credit: it's very rare that an adult book with a lot of explicit sex scenes also includes explicit cunnilingus. unfortunately these brownie points are moot later when john graves sticks his dongle in the virgin mc without any foreplay. hnnngghhhh. authors, stahp. i really resent the implication that tania had some kind of mental illness; schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder all come up several times in the text and if flb was implying that tania suffers from those, then she can go fuck herself! people with schizophrenia, despite the way they're portrayed in the media, are very seldom violent towards others; they're far and away more likely to be victims of violent crime themselves. i'm not going to say that's definitely what went on here because the ending was (as usual) purposefully left vague, but even if she wasn't supposed to be on the schizophrenia spectrum, there's a lot of really shitty insinuations with the villain having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and her coconspirator being a large, possibly special needs? homeless man. i really, really hate it when media perpetuates the notion that homeless people are dangerous. i especially hate it from block, who should know better. i'm really angry. i won't be reading another francesca lia block book for a long, long time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    Beautiful, lush, shining, whimsical, magical, sensual...every adjective used to describe Block's previous works are applicable. But this book is also so compelling, filled with gripping and horrifying mystery. At times, I could not stop reading - I needed to know more, but at others I had to put it down, knowing I should prolong the experience because when it was over I would feel an emptiness wash over me. And here it is. But I also feel like I'm glowing inside, and so happy that years after be Beautiful, lush, shining, whimsical, magical, sensual...every adjective used to describe Block's previous works are applicable. But this book is also so compelling, filled with gripping and horrifying mystery. At times, I could not stop reading - I needed to know more, but at others I had to put it down, knowing I should prolong the experience because when it was over I would feel an emptiness wash over me. And here it is. But I also feel like I'm glowing inside, and so happy that years after being 15 and reading Block's books like bibles, she has enveloped me in this cocoon of lovely once again. If you're a fan of Block's Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books or...any of her previous works, DO NOT WAIT TO READ THIS. Read it now. If you're looking for something that will creep into you, romanticize everything around you... The Elementals did just that for me. One warning: this book walks a fine line between what would be considered very mature YA and adult fiction (as it is marketed). Neither of these categories matter to me at all, and I think you should read this book because it's gorgeous...but for those who highly value these distinctions...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christie

    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 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 :)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    “Add in the way college isolated you, left you feeling as if the rest of the world, including your past and your family, was just a dream compared to what you read in your books and on the faces of the other students, and anything could happen.” I’ve long had a thing for college stories. I loved being in college and I always enjoy getting to vicariously revisit it in the pages of a novel. And it’s such a liminal time, which makes it a great setting for a story. I remember being giddy with the kno “Add in the way college isolated you, left you feeling as if the rest of the world, including your past and your family, was just a dream compared to what you read in your books and on the faces of the other students, and anything could happen.” I’ve long had a thing for college stories. I loved being in college and I always enjoy getting to vicariously revisit it in the pages of a novel. And it’s such a liminal time, which makes it a great setting for a story. I remember being giddy with the knowledge that I could now go anywhere I wanted and do anything I wanted and no one could stop me, but at the same time still so unsure of myself that I wasn’t quite sure who I was or what I actually wanted to do with that newfound freedom. College campuses, too, often have a rich vein of folklore that lends itself well to fantasy. There’s another reason, too, that Francesca Lia Block’s The Elementals appeals to me. If someone were to invent a new genre called “Are There Fairies, Or Are Our Lives Just Really Messed Up?”, that would be the first shelf I’d gravitate toward in the bookstore. I can’t get enough of these sorts of novels where fantasy is interwoven with real-life problems, and the reader is never quite sure how much of the fantasy element “really happened” and how much is a way to find some comfort in an awful situation. So it’s probably not surprising that I loved The Elementals. Block tells the story of Ariel, a troubled young woman who goes away to college at Berkeley while reeling from the unsolved abduction of her best friend, Jeni, and her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. Jeni was last seen at Berkeley on a school trip, and that’s why Ariel wants to go to school there — in the hopes of finding Jeni or at least learning what happened to her. She’s already desperately lonely, and she finds college a lonely place too; she’s bullied by her roommate and some other students in her dorm. Starving for human connection, Ariel is drawn into a group of eccentric grad students who take her under their wing but make increasingly unsettling demands of her. Oh, and they seem to have unusual powers, and they believe Ariel does too. The Elementals follows Ariel through huge changes in her life and in her personality. It’s a coming of age story and she truly grows up within these pages. This is nowhere clearer than in her relationship with her mother; Ariel’s initial response to her mother’s illness is immature and somewhat self-centered, and by the end of the book she’s her mom’s biggest supporter. She also develops more of a spine and, while she still desires love and acceptance, is no longer willing to sacrifice so much for it as she was in the beginning. I’ve read some reviews criticizing Ariel for getting into dangerous situations by not really having a sense of self-preservation. This is something that often annoys me in books, but in this case felt like an organic part of Ariel’s character. Especially at the novel’s start, she’s so desperate to know what happened to Jeni that I think she’d be willing to risk having the same thing happen to her, if it could at least bring her some answers and closure. Then, she makes some questionable decisions because she thinks her new friends are her only chance at having friends at all. And, too, I kind of related to some of her crazy choices — for example, I don’t think I realized until college that I was “supposed” to be afraid of walking alone at night. I’d use that heady freedom to go wandering around, and then afterward people would tell me I should have been scared. Block’s writing is beautiful; it’s highly stylized and won’t be for everyone, but if you like your prose lush, you’ll like this. Block ties in some fairy tale and mythological themes and spins a story with ambiguities that will leave you thinking and wondering after you’ve finished the book. This is a novel for readers who enjoyed Elizabeth Hand’s Waking the Moon, Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, and I think also Jennifer McMahon’s Don’t Breathe a Word. These are all favorites of mine, and The Elementals feels like it belongs right there with them. If you like rich prose and ambiguous supernatural elements and angsty young girls’ coming of age stories, this one’s for you. A note on age appropriateness: Block has written many novels for young adults, but this one is classified as an adult novel and does include explicit sexual content. www.fantasyliterature.com

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    I couldn't connect with any of the characters at all. There were times where I wanted to stop reading but I needed to know what happen with Jeni. It would've bothered me if I didn't know that when I did learn what happen I wanted to stop but couldn't. I couldn't connect with any of the characters at all. There were times where I wanted to stop reading but I needed to know what happen with Jeni. It would've bothered me if I didn't know that when I did learn what happen I wanted to stop but couldn't.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paula Phillips

    Have you ever read a novel that you thought was so weird and even when you have finished reading it , you are still at a loss ? The Elementals did this too me , as a voracious and plentiful reader I have read almost 500 books this year alone and ALOT of books in my lifetime. Normally if I get a book that I cant get into or read I put it down and move on as there are so many other good books in the world to read but The Elementals was one of those books and I have to say ONE of the few books that Have you ever read a novel that you thought was so weird and even when you have finished reading it , you are still at a loss ? The Elementals did this too me , as a voracious and plentiful reader I have read almost 500 books this year alone and ALOT of books in my lifetime. Normally if I get a book that I cant get into or read I put it down and move on as there are so many other good books in the world to read but The Elementals was one of those books and I have to say ONE of the few books that had me captivated as well as utterly confused. What drew me to the book was first the title as I thought hmm - a magic story about a group of teens who can do something with the elements like start fires or control water etc and then reading the back I discovered that the story had a mystery aspect as the main character Ariel's friend Jeni went missing from Berkley Campus a year ago and now Ariel has enrolled herself one year later at Berkely University to discover what happened to her friend. Her journey will take her through a series of different friendships and relations with others until she meets an odd group of people called "The Elementals". For me personally I'm not too sure about them as they were the confusing part of the story for me but as we get along the story will Ariel find Jeni or discover what happened to her so that Ariel can finally rest knowing that it has been solved or will her search end up in tatters as no leads appear but odd notations that she can't turn into proof and evidence ? This book I think you will either like it or not and is completely about personal likes as I finished it , it is getting a review but because in a way I am still baffled by it the book will only recieve 3 P's.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Oh,Francesca, Francesca...what are you doing to me??? This was a hot mess. Bringing back dead babies through group sex? Really? Oy, vey.

  8. 4 out of 5

    V Mignon

    In his foreword to Anna Kavan's Ice, science-fiction author Christopher Priest discusses the topic of slipstream fiction: "It is, in essence, indefinable, but slipstream induces a sense of 'otherness' in the audience, like a glimpse into a distorting mirror, perhaps, or a view of familiar sights and objects from an unfamiliar perspective. In general it imparts a sense that reality might not be quite as certain as we think." Slipstream was initially a genre created to separate cliched science-fic In his foreword to Anna Kavan's Ice, science-fiction author Christopher Priest discusses the topic of slipstream fiction: "It is, in essence, indefinable, but slipstream induces a sense of 'otherness' in the audience, like a glimpse into a distorting mirror, perhaps, or a view of familiar sights and objects from an unfamiliar perspective. In general it imparts a sense that reality might not be quite as certain as we think." Slipstream was initially a genre created to separate cliched science-fiction from a new emerging perspective. But it became a way to market books that seemed virtually unmarketable, such as Kavan's work. It became a catch-all term that included science-fiction and even magical-realism. According to Priest, associated authors with slipstream are Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Philip K. Dick, Angela Carter, Paul Auster, Haruki Murakami, Jorge Luis Borges, William S. Burroughs, and I would go as far as to say Hermann Hesse. What slipstream hinges on - and perhaps, what magical-realism hinges upon as well - is the author refusing to untangle the netting between consciousness and unconsciousness, having the boldness to leave a majority of the novel undefined. In short, "without attempting to explain." A sense of unreality. I flock to slipstream and magical-realism for this sense of an undefinable world. In the years since I left college, I have made good friends with a set of essays by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. And my favorite novel, of all time, is still The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman. This sense, in which our perceptions are often questionable, when dreams and illusions seep into the reality that we thought was constructed on logic, was partly my life for a period of time. And so I race back to my Angela Carter, to my Borges, to get a sense of the inhuman, the undefinable, the imperceptible. Upon being told that Francesca Lia Block had written a magical-realism novel for adults, I was intrigued. In a short period of time, I've heard much about her work without having been truly introduced to it. And so as I was at the shelves, I saw The Elementals staring at me, calling my name as I pushed carts about. I took it home with me and instantly pulled out my notebook and pen, hoping to take notes; having majored in English, my first instinct is to analyze a novel. Then, slowly, my pen dropped and my brows twitched. The Elementals lies within a category that should be unexplained, and yet everything that happens to Ariel is clearly explained right from the beginning. She's going to college. Her best friend Jeni disappeared, her mother has cancer, and she constantly insists that her grief is making her insane. She resides within UC Berkeley, where the tanned, blonde girls tease her like villains from an 80's high school film. And perhaps the worst transgression against Block's magical-realism label is by creating a conventional tale. There is a clear villain. There is an end to Ariel's search for Jeni. For a genre that is supposed to thrive on unreality, Ariel's world is too real. We're never given a sense that the strange group she meets up with, who refer to themselves as "The Elementals", are a product solely of her mind. One of them, John Graves, even has a Facebook page. Perry and Tania are characters rife with cliches and there is a general feeling that none of the characters are really developed. What really took me out of the story though were the portions where Ariel attends her English classes. Many of the projects she has are those that would be given out in high school rather than college. She grows to have an appreciation of language through poetry, but once you start your path to that English degree, you have to drop your emotional connection. Because those emotions stand in the way of you understanding the literature. There are mentions of Ezra Pound, who at my college was known to break many an English major, as a "madman" when that is purely debatable. Ariel's initial love is Yeats and she questions why he had such a fascination with fairies within his poetry. The answer to that is obvious, that fairies are a stand-in for nature and that nature is both beautiful and destructive. This is a point made for Ariel's connection to her group of friends, that they are beautiful and enticing on the surface, but have an air of strangeness about them. Where Block falters is in trying to make one member of the group innocent of their id-like fantasies. If you're going to go weird, go all out. Have them all in on those sexual fantasies; make me understand their allure to Ariel and why she is so attracted to them. I ended up feeling repulsed by the "innocent" member, for his knowledge of their dealings while trying to play innocent was far more offending than if he was in on it. The Elementals isn't weird enough. By being so seeped in realistic problems, the book loses all sense of unreality. This is not to say that books dealing with unreality can't have real problems within them; Kavan's Ice exudes a sense of loss without admitting to the reader that she has lost anything with prose. Block states Ariel's problems constantly - and that is a problem when we are in the realm of magical-realism. I wasn't seduced by the Elementals as Ariel was, to say the least.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Crystal ✬ Lost in Storyland

    The Elementals is a book that creeps on you and draws you in page by haunting page. Ariel was sixteen when her best friend disappeared. At seventeen closing in on eighteen now, Ariel is going to the college Jeni was visiting when she disappeared. Here, Ariel hopes to find some closure through investigating the mystery of her friend's disappearance. In searching for sympathy, help, something, however, Ariel finds hostility. The streets are filled with crazy people, her roommate is a bitch, and th The Elementals is a book that creeps on you and draws you in page by haunting page. Ariel was sixteen when her best friend disappeared. At seventeen closing in on eighteen now, Ariel is going to the college Jeni was visiting when she disappeared. Here, Ariel hopes to find some closure through investigating the mystery of her friend's disappearance. In searching for sympathy, help, something, however, Ariel finds hostility. The streets are filled with crazy people, her roommate is a bitch, and there are a bunch of weirdos living in her dorm. No one proves especially welcoming until she meets three otherwordly grad students who welcome her into their lives. Among them, one in particular catches her heart: John Graves. The heart of the story spans three parts: freshman year, sophomore year, and junior year. Jeni disappeared a year ago, and while the case is still open, the officer in charge of the case has given up hope for Jeni. And while Ariel persists in searching for clues to Jeni's disappearance, there are times when she forgets her best friend and loses herself in the world she's discovering with John Graves and his companions. While she is with them, the inner artist escapes Ariel, and in the moments where her emotions overtake her senses, she catches glimpses of other worlds and finds magic in her life. There is also the case of her mother's cancer and growing weakness. She is discovering herself as a woman and a daughter, and she is learning that she can't devote all her time and energy to the missing (or dead) when the present (and living) need her as well. This is a coming-of-age novel for the New Adult, filled with haunting prose told in a mature voice. There are some characters introduced who rarely appear again. Some of them play important roles in moving the plot; others wouldn't be worth your time if you bump into them. In another novel, I would find this frustrating. Living on a college campus myself, however, I know that it is possible to live in the dorms and only run into most people now and then, even if you live on the same floor, in the same hallway. With Ariel in a state where she doesn't know how to pick up the pieces left after Jeni's disappearance, this lent all the more to the reality of the story. She's away from home for the first time for such an extended period of time, her best friend was supposed to be there with her but isn't, and now she's running into all these new characters. She doesn't know what to do and in the process of figuring her life out she's making a lot of mistakes, but it's okay because this is all a part of life, just like the people coming and going and reappearing in your life. Ariel doesn't know it, but she has a good support system of people ready to hear her out if she'll only come to her. Of course, in the process of coming into her own, Ariel isn't able to readily recognize these people, especially when they say something that makes her feel as though they can't understand what she's going through with Jeni and all the other crap in her life. Many of the smaller conflicts between her and other characters aren't resolved with the end of the novel. Again, it's okay with this book because it shows us that not everything can be resolved perfectly. Some mysteries are solved, but the resolutions are imperfect. While we can't fully comprehend everyone's motives, we can see that Ariel has found the closure that she needed, which is what really matters. Mysterious and intriguing, Ariel's story will captivate readers with her fragility, hesitancy to open her heart, and inner strength. Mature warning: there are very detailed sexual references in this novel. -- For more of my reviews, visit my blog Imaginary Reads. [image error]

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hell

    There was too much going on in this book. It felt clumsy. FLB helped me through my teen years and I still adore her. I used to collect her quotes. This didn't feel quotable. Ariel was too innocent. The sex scenes were remarkably bland, especially for how dark the whole book is supposed to be. And how did she NOT know she was being drugged? Why is everyone always so thin? Drugs, I guess? The end confession felt very Law & Order. It was a quick read. I'm not giving up on her. Everyone has a blip. There was too much going on in this book. It felt clumsy. FLB helped me through my teen years and I still adore her. I used to collect her quotes. This didn't feel quotable. Ariel was too innocent. The sex scenes were remarkably bland, especially for how dark the whole book is supposed to be. And how did she NOT know she was being drugged? Why is everyone always so thin? Drugs, I guess? The end confession felt very Law & Order. It was a quick read. I'm not giving up on her. Everyone has a blip.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More)

    While this is not my usual cup of tea, it was well-written and gripping. An emotional, magical realism coming of age story. Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine in the October issue. http://affairedecoeur.com. While this is not my usual cup of tea, it was well-written and gripping. An emotional, magical realism coming of age story. Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine in the October issue. http://affairedecoeur.com.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    This one took me a little while to get into. when it did get going though I enjoyed the magicalness, the descriptions of food and the relationships. felt a little flat though to me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    usagi ☆ミ

    My thanks to the author for lending me her copy to review. This is a very hard review to do unbiased, as Block is my mentor, but I will try nonetheless. This is also generally a pretty difficult review to write, mostly because of how much the book moved me. I don’t say that often in my reviews, but I had to pause more than once when reading this because my eyes just kept filling up. While Ariel gets a happily ever after in this book and (presumably, since it’s not concretely sketched out for us a My thanks to the author for lending me her copy to review. This is a very hard review to do unbiased, as Block is my mentor, but I will try nonetheless. This is also generally a pretty difficult review to write, mostly because of how much the book moved me. I don’t say that often in my reviews, but I had to pause more than once when reading this because my eyes just kept filling up. While Ariel gets a happily ever after in this book and (presumably, since it’s not concretely sketched out for us at the end of the book) her cancer-stricken mother does too, unfortunately, Block’s mother did not. Gilda Block died almost two years ago, and this book is dedicated to her — and I think Gilda would be very, very proud of this book. Block wrote this from a place of grief, but all the same, that same grief moved her to a place that’s above some of her most wonderful works to date. “The Elementals” is definitely one of her most mature and tender books to date. It’s not a happy book, but is one that will ultimately make you grow and give you hope. My best friend died at age 12 – three months away from her 13th birthday. Block, through Ariel and her search for her BFF Jeni, talks about how the vanishing or murder of someone so young stays with you. And it does. Never knowing what could have been stays with you, and while Ariel and Jeni are older than my friend who died (also from cancer) so young, the idea of youth vanishing at such an innocent age is a haunting one - I know it definitely haunted me because I identified with Ariel so strongly in that department. This book is structured as a murder mystery, but Block does it through her traditional style of magical realism. Are the new friends Ariel finds really magical? Or is she really losing her mind from the grief of losing her best friend and trying to battle it out along side her sick mother? It’s a question that gets asked repeatedly, reminding the reader that Ariel may or may not be a reliable narrator (spoiler alert: the question is never firmly answered, but it is implied that she is a reliable narrator in the end), and that reality is all about perception. Because Ariel is perceiving things in a magical way, they are magical when happening to her. Ariel is one of the most sympathetic main characters, either in adult or in YA (and this is a book for adults), that I’ve ever ‘met’ (as much as a reader can meet a main character). She gets kicked around by life pretty hard her first year at Berkeley, and she’s trying so hard to keep functioning each day without losing her mind or her heart, or both. As I know how that feels on the grief end of losing someone so close to you, it pulled at a few very old triggers in me, so I did have to take breaks when reading it. Ariel does not hold back from the reader as she narrates us in her journey through her mother’s illness and her quest to find her best friend/who took her best friend. But Block once again manages to go through the “tough stuff” genre elegantly, knowing how to phrase things, and how to start knitting together a tale you can’t put down, even if it makes you feel things that you can’t quite immediately comprehend. The plot is easy to follow, even with the question of magical reality versus insanity planted firmly within the audience’s mind. Block hasn’t written this murder-mystery plot before, but I couldn’t really find a place where she once stumbled or made me question the believability (even in the most fantastic parts of the book) of Ariel Silverman’s tale. Every character was filled out wonderfully, every arc and sub-arc executed with skill and grace. Her sensory language in this particular book is some of the most powerful I’ve read from her yet. I’ve never been to Berkeley or San Francisco (though I do know LA very well), and she yet made me experience both of those places through words. This is so very hard to do, and not everyone can excel in it, but I think that writing from this place of grief really ultimately helped enhance Block’s skills everywhere, and especially in the sensory language and imagery department. Final verdict? A must-read, especially if you’ve read Block’s YA works – you’ll see how much she’s grown here. And if you haven’t, what better way to introduce yourself to her style than through this book? Either way, this is a mainstream adult debut you really can’t miss this year. “The Elementals” is out through St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan October 16th, 2012 in North America – other places, please consult your local bookseller. Seriously, guys. Not for the faint of heart, but the payoff is huge in the end. This one makes my best of 2o12 list so check it out when it gets published in October! (posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    Block, F.L. (2012). The elementals. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 263 pp. ISBN: 978-1-250-00549-6. (Hardcover); $24.99. This is not Weetzie Bat. It is Francesca Lia Block and this book is an adult title that both teens and adults will appreciate. This dark, paranormal thriller still echoes Block’s beautiful way with words: “It was easy. Girls like that, I knew what they liked. Pretty things. Maybe with a little oddness, a little edge. Dolls with too-big heads and eyes that changed colors. Dolls w Block, F.L. (2012). The elementals. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 263 pp. ISBN: 978-1-250-00549-6. (Hardcover); $24.99. This is not Weetzie Bat. It is Francesca Lia Block and this book is an adult title that both teens and adults will appreciate. This dark, paranormal thriller still echoes Block’s beautiful way with words: “It was easy. Girls like that, I knew what they liked. Pretty things. Maybe with a little oddness, a little edge. Dolls with too-big heads and eyes that changed colors. Dolls with little sharp teeth and flowered dresses. Porcelain dolls with pointed elf ears that could be exchanged for normal human ones. Not just dolls but vintage gowns and shoes and jewels. And food. And music. Halloween Hotel was always a good one. Oh, and the wine of course. Made in the basement with such slight traces of cannabis, opium and ephedra that you almost couldn’t detect them, unless you were a really bright chemistry student.” (p. 255). Ariel is trying to move on with her life, go to college, find friends, but it is impossible to forget the disappearance of her best friend Jen. In fact, Ariel chooses to attend UC Berkeley to investigate Jen’s disappearance in the last place she was seen alive. The fact that Ariel’s mother has cancer complicates everything to the point of reducing Ariel to a brooding introverted mess. Ariel wanders the streets that Jen wandered hoping to feel the psychic footprints of her friend—with very little success. She suspects the creepy Fritz Kragen but cannot dig up enough compelling evidence to persuade Detective Rodriguez to investigate. She also wonders about the street man with the dreads who says to her, “’I was once like you, my friend,’ he said. ‘You could become me easy, walk out into the street covered in hair and filth and people would look at you with disgust, sister, and think you were born like that, that you never were a little child, clean as a small tree, quick as water, bright in the mind and breathing sweetly…’” (p. 233). Jen, however, is gone without a trace. College only serves to confuse and alienate Ariel. Her roommate torments her and constantly has sex in the room, which forces Ariel onto the streets. Her life improves when she meets John Graves and his group of very strange ranger roommates. Eventually John becomes her lover and the descriptions are steamy and definitely adult, even if they are not too far removed from the experiences of many teens. They are also necessary for the Ariel/Prospero mythology that fills the pages. Eventually, the crises that are Ariel’s life pull her back to Los Angeles. Ariel needs to be near her cancer-ridden mother. She needs to be there for her father—that is until the missing Jen exerts her pull once again and back to Berkeley she goes. This mystery is dark and magical, filled with musical sentences, creepy and gorgeous all the way to the startling conclusion. Fans of Weetzie Bat will love this new direction for Block and older high school teens who have never read Weetzie will clamor for more.

  15. 4 out of 5

    amyextradot

    I'm not a devotee of Francesa Lia Block, my any means. Don't get me wrong, she's a great author--I've read some of her YA stuff, but it's too "old" for my students, so I usually don't seek it out. In her first "adult" novel, she absolutely blew me away, to the point where I will seek out her YA books just so I can read them for my own pleasure. I'm not going to give you a summary of the book--you can read that in one of the countless reviews here, or just read the dust jacket. What I will say, ho I'm not a devotee of Francesa Lia Block, my any means. Don't get me wrong, she's a great author--I've read some of her YA stuff, but it's too "old" for my students, so I usually don't seek it out. In her first "adult" novel, she absolutely blew me away, to the point where I will seek out her YA books just so I can read them for my own pleasure. I'm not going to give you a summary of the book--you can read that in one of the countless reviews here, or just read the dust jacket. What I will say, however, is that Block created a world of love, lust, magic, loss, grief, sadness and longing with such lush language, I couldn't put the book down. Seriously. I started reading it at 3 and finished it at 6:30--with some breaks in there to feed the kids and stuff. Read. This. Book. It's hauntingly lovely.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Heather *Undercover Summer Goth*

    I would say I enjoyed this book for the most part. What I didn't like: The descriptions were quite wordy (but beautiful), and the ending was rushed and unsatisfying. But I did like that I could feel Ariel's sadness. I liked the romance. I didn't mind Ariel's passiveness, especially when she begins to realize things about herself later in the book, and grows stronger. This wasn't exactly a quick read, despite the short length. Also, the story doesn't really seem to go anywhere for a long time. I h I would say I enjoyed this book for the most part. What I didn't like: The descriptions were quite wordy (but beautiful), and the ending was rushed and unsatisfying. But I did like that I could feel Ariel's sadness. I liked the romance. I didn't mind Ariel's passiveness, especially when she begins to realize things about herself later in the book, and grows stronger. This wasn't exactly a quick read, despite the short length. Also, the story doesn't really seem to go anywhere for a long time. I had this book on my maybe this, but I'm glad I took the time to read it. It made me wonder why I haven't read more of Block's book over the years.

  17. 4 out of 5

    And

    A dark, delicious romp through two very different worlds. A ghost story worthy of the Romantics that leaves you wondering where the supernatural ends and the natural begins. Block draws the reader so deeply and so subtly into the protagonist's world that one is left blinking in the sunlight wondering what just happened upon finishing the book. Rich, unique and immersing - my favorite qualities in a book. A dark, delicious romp through two very different worlds. A ghost story worthy of the Romantics that leaves you wondering where the supernatural ends and the natural begins. Block draws the reader so deeply and so subtly into the protagonist's world that one is left blinking in the sunlight wondering what just happened upon finishing the book. Rich, unique and immersing - my favorite qualities in a book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    The Elementals is a book that just fills you up. I'm rereading it just to savor Block's words because of course the first time I read it I rushed and read and read until I was at the last page way too soon. This is a book for anyone who has a best friend, who enjoys the possiblity of magic, and loves lush descriptive worlds like the one Francesca Lia Block creates. The Elementals is a book that just fills you up. I'm rereading it just to savor Block's words because of course the first time I read it I rushed and read and read until I was at the last page way too soon. This is a book for anyone who has a best friend, who enjoys the possiblity of magic, and loves lush descriptive worlds like the one Francesca Lia Block creates.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Izabela

    This book is filled with Block's usual beautiful prose, but is actually a lot more straightforward than a lot of her YA books. I wish we had gotten more clues about the ending, because it felt kind of out of left field, but I still devoured this book. This book is filled with Block's usual beautiful prose, but is actually a lot more straightforward than a lot of her YA books. I wish we had gotten more clues about the ending, because it felt kind of out of left field, but I still devoured this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cherlynn Womack

    WEIRD AS HELL!!!!! I DO NOT recommend!!!! About a girl named Ariel who tries to find her missing friend, while at Berkeley University as a student. Her mom has cancer & she is trying to cope as her mom changes. Meanwhile, Ariel makes friends with a group of freaks that practice some form of witchcraft & magic. These friends drink wine that is laced with something. The book is unnecessarily sexually explicit & contains drug use. The characters are stupid with stupid beliefs. I was glad when I fini WEIRD AS HELL!!!!! I DO NOT recommend!!!! About a girl named Ariel who tries to find her missing friend, while at Berkeley University as a student. Her mom has cancer & she is trying to cope as her mom changes. Meanwhile, Ariel makes friends with a group of freaks that practice some form of witchcraft & magic. These friends drink wine that is laced with something. The book is unnecessarily sexually explicit & contains drug use. The characters are stupid with stupid beliefs. I was glad when I finished the book so I can move on to something decent to read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Reading through the other reviews, I see this is one of those love it or hate it books. I am clearly in the love camp, seduced by the lyrical writing and other worldliness of this story. I read this book in two days and I am a very slow reader! When 17 year old Ariel begins college at UC Berkeley, she is haunted by the tragedy of a friend who has gone missing and also by the recent diagnosis of her mother's breast cancer. Unable to adjust to normal campus life, she is befriended by Tania, Perry Reading through the other reviews, I see this is one of those love it or hate it books. I am clearly in the love camp, seduced by the lyrical writing and other worldliness of this story. I read this book in two days and I am a very slow reader! When 17 year old Ariel begins college at UC Berkeley, she is haunted by the tragedy of a friend who has gone missing and also by the recent diagnosis of her mother's breast cancer. Unable to adjust to normal campus life, she is befriended by Tania, Perry and John -- three strange but beautiful grad students. Shunned in the dorm rooms and not very well liked by professors, Ariel spends more and more time with the three grad students. They live in a mansion, eat strange food and explore a quasi reality with one foot in the faerie world. They are obsessed with solstices, costuming and general weirdness. A slow building romance ensues with nihilistic John, but Ariel cannot let go of her obsession with her missing best friend. As the friendships intensify, Ariel learns exactly what is expected of her. And it ain't pretty. I loved the gorgeous writing of this book, the magical situations and also the suspense. The mystery kept me reading right till the end. Be warned -- in some ways it is more of a YA book than an adult book, featuring 'mean girls' first romance. etc. However in other ways it is very adult, featuring sexual situations and the dark depravity that comes with a missing teenager. There are a few hard to stomach scenes that contrast with the faerie land paradise, a great blend of gruesome and beautiful. Tam Lin meets Holly Black, A Midsummer Night's Dream meets Carrie. If this sounds intriguing to you, please give this book a try!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I absolutely love Francesca Lia Block, so it pains me to give only three stars to her newest book. But in the end I felt the book was consistently disjointed and though I was compelled to finish--she's still magical even when disjointed--I can't rank it among my favorites. The Elementalswas published for adults rather than teens, and at first I couldn't understand why. The basic plot and feel of the novel is classic FLB--a lonely, lovely teen narrator; magic; vintage clothes; old houses; the bea I absolutely love Francesca Lia Block, so it pains me to give only three stars to her newest book. But in the end I felt the book was consistently disjointed and though I was compelled to finish--she's still magical even when disjointed--I can't rank it among my favorites. The Elementalswas published for adults rather than teens, and at first I couldn't understand why. The basic plot and feel of the novel is classic FLB--a lonely, lovely teen narrator; magic; vintage clothes; old houses; the beauty and the tragedy of L.A. and other California destinations written so gorgeously it makes the reader long to experience those places firsthand; the other-worldliness of faerie pulsing just behind contemporary life. However, the teen narrator, Ariel, becomes an adult through the course of the novel, and really, her experiences are those of a burgeoning adult, the girl left behind as she grows into a young woman. Ariel's first year of college is marred and ruined by the loss of her best friend, Jeni, who disappeared on a class field trip to Berkeley the summer before her freshman year. Ariel is plagued and tormented by the not-knowing. Determined to discover the truth of what happened to Jeni, she rarely eats, moves through her life like a phantom, and suffers cruelty from her roommate and the jocks with whom she shares a co-ed bathroom. Then she meets a trio of strange upperclassmen who live in a sprawling, decaying mansion in the Berkeley hills. They throw lavish parties, serve questionable cocktails, and quickly draw Ariel into their strange ritualistic life. Are they Fae? Human? What is it they want from Ariel? The reader won't find out for a very long time, and the road to the revelation tested my patience as a reader. I understand that the trio, especially John Graves, who becomes Ariel's beloved, is supposed to be magical and entrancing, but their odd behavior strained the willing suspension of disbelief. The reader is expected to accept that Ariel's bereavement over Jeni is the reason for her acceptance/addiction to the trio, but Ariel comes and goes, saying no sometimes, saying yes sometimes. In the end, the addictive aspect of the trio is explained, but by the time that explanation comes, it's a little too late. At least it was for me. I still enjoyed the book, though the threads of the plot felt loosely weaved together, unlike other, more successful FLB reads. The mystery of Jeni's disappearance, finally revealed, satisfied me, but the narration from the mouth of the villain, felt unbelievable in the end. The subplot of Ariel's mother, suffering from cancer, didn't do much for me, at least in the first two-thirds of the book, but then FLB writes about it beautifully in the last third. I wish I hadn't been as impatient with this novel as I was. I found myself bored by the seemingly endless sex scenes with John Graves--oh, they're having sex again and it's so magical it's drawing Ariel into other worlds again--and I rarely find myself bored by sex scenes. Ultimately, I felt the novel needed tightening throughout, that if a few more edits and some rewriting had been done, this novel would have been a five-star, knock-it-out-of-the-ball-park read. It wasn't, but it was still good enough to recommend, with some reservations.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    With Ms. Block, it's all about the voice: the elevated, poetic voices of characters out of skew with the conventional world, troubled by this fact but obstinately refusing to conform. Her books rise or fall on the consistency of her narrators' thoughts and the accessibility of their predicaments. At her best, Block captures a certain elfin cast of mind better than any other writer. When she does, she can be very powerful and moving. Think of it this way: Francesca Lia Block may be the Raymond Ch With Ms. Block, it's all about the voice: the elevated, poetic voices of characters out of skew with the conventional world, troubled by this fact but obstinately refusing to conform. Her books rise or fall on the consistency of her narrators' thoughts and the accessibility of their predicaments. At her best, Block captures a certain elfin cast of mind better than any other writer. When she does, she can be very powerful and moving. Think of it this way: Francesca Lia Block may be the Raymond Chandler of Young Adult fantasy. And in this book, Block brings it. The Elementals will not disappoint Block's many fans who expect her brand of lush, lyrical modern fable; but it may also earn her a new audience beyond the teens and tweens of her base. The spirit here is darker, more bleak, and the raw sexual energy has more in common with Block's adult erotica and poetry than with the fanciful, precious love stories of Weetzie, Dirk and Duck [see Dangerous Angels by the same author]. That's not to say that Block plays away from her strengths. There's plenty of magic and mystery here; quotations from ancient lore, sanguine rituals and weird synchronicities abound, enough to sate young minds jonesing for the next dose of Twilight. But grown women (and men such as myself) will appreciate the longing Block so ably captures here on a much deeper level than her typical young reader who (we hope) has yet to experience crushing loss and failure. And the ambiguous ending will prove more satisfying than a conventionally happy tale or a dream we can wake from to a bright morning. The Elementals proceeds in many ways just like a dream - a true dream, that is: baffling, inconclusive but totally engaging. Ariel behaves illogically at times, but then she is a young woman in a collapsing world. As I read, I was often reminded of Yeats's poem "The Stolen Child:" the eponymous characters prod and cajole Ariel to choose their secret life in the place of the pain and death of the outer world - a choice which is eventually revealed as false. Although it's never flatly painted as such by either the author or her character, it's a moral choice, one by which Ariel comes of age. And for this reader at least, that very morality is the adult fiber of the book, what sets it apart from frothy wish fulfillment or titillation and earns The Elementals its place at the grown-ups' table. Childhood really does end, after all.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liviania

    Francesca Lia Block's style is as beautiful as ever, dreamy and almost more poetry than prose. It can lean toward the purple, but I think it works with her lush stories wherein fairytales clash with harsh reality. In THE ELEMENTALS, college freshman Ariel Silverman searches for her best friend Jeni, who went missing on a trip to Berkeley. While searching, she falls in love. THE ELEMENTALS may be published as an adult novel, but it reads very similarly to Block's YA novels. Although, since it cove Francesca Lia Block's style is as beautiful as ever, dreamy and almost more poetry than prose. It can lean toward the purple, but I think it works with her lush stories wherein fairytales clash with harsh reality. In THE ELEMENTALS, college freshman Ariel Silverman searches for her best friend Jeni, who went missing on a trip to Berkeley. While searching, she falls in love. THE ELEMENTALS may be published as an adult novel, but it reads very similarly to Block's YA novels. Although, since it covers Ariel's first three years at college, it fits nicely into that new category of YA-style novels aimed at twentysomethings. ("New adult," but that name is terrible.) The sex is slightly more explicit than Block's YA novels, but she's never been an author to shy away from sexiness. Her style revels in the sensual. The various threads of THE ELEMENTALS don't always fit together neatly. There's the search for Jeni, in which Ariel does not prove to be a master detective. She's a teen looking for any answer in her grief. There's her mother's cancer, which she ignores for much of the first year the novel covers. There's her classwork and attempts to interact with her classmates which mostly fade away once she meets John Graves. Ariel falls very deeply into John Graves, along with his strange roommates Tania and Perry. Each element is important to Ariel's growth, but the novel felt episodic. However, it's a beautifully told story. I thought the person who took Jeni was pretty obvious, although others might not - there were several red herrings. But the book is about Ariel's journey, not whodunit. Block's magical realism is more intriguing than ever, as there's a sense that nothing magical at all is happening in THE ELEMENTALS. Instead of this being a setting where some of the rules of are world simply don't exist, it feels like there is an explanation in line with our world. It's a trick I haven't seen Block pull before. I devoured THE ELEMENTALS in a single sitting. It's a book that moves between lovely and creepy without blinking an eye. It's cathartic, to see Ariel overcome her depression and grief, ready to make a future for herself. When she enters Berkeley, she mostly attends the college in order to find out what happened to Jeni. By the end, she's there for herself. It's a fantastic story with an ending full of love and hope.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lighthearted

    Ariel Silverman’s best friend disappeared while visiting the college they meant to attend together. Ariel is still shaken by this loss when she learns that her mother has breast cancer. She begins her first year at college in a haze — she’s completely disconnected from everyone, including herself. Clinging to memories of happier days, Ariel is determined to find out what happened to Jeni. While handing out flyers she encounters some peculiar street people who seem oddly interested in her. While t Ariel Silverman’s best friend disappeared while visiting the college they meant to attend together. Ariel is still shaken by this loss when she learns that her mother has breast cancer. She begins her first year at college in a haze — she’s completely disconnected from everyone, including herself. Clinging to memories of happier days, Ariel is determined to find out what happened to Jeni. While handing out flyers she encounters some peculiar street people who seem oddly interested in her. While the street people seem intrigued by her, her fellow freshmen seem intent on either dismissing her or taunting her. Things change when she meets grad students John, Tania, and Perry. They are beautiful, mysterious, and seductive. For the first time since her world fell apart, she’s interested in something other than her desire to find out what happened to Jeni. Her new friends are eclectic — their clothes tend to be elegant but frayed, as does the house they share. The food and drink they serve reawakens her appetite — but only for what’s on their table — she has to struggle to eat anything else. This is a surreal coming of age story — the tone is ominous from beginning to end. Block’s writing is richly atmospheric. I loved the otherworldly strangeness of several of the characters. Are they fae? Are they something else? Why is Ariel so drawn to them — and why are they so drawn to her? The strangeness, the mystery is done very well. The normal part of the story was a little jarring for me — I never understood the reason why her dormmates chose to torment her in the way that they did. I’m not even sure if they were responsible for the pranks — John entered her room to fill it with flowers, maybe he or his roommates placed the other items in there as well, to make her hate the dorm enough to move in with them. Whomever was responsible, it seems evident that there’s a theme at play here but I’m not entirely certain what Block means for us to draw from it. The romance is reminiscent of Edward and Bella but this is definitely not a YA novel. There are no “vegetarian” vampires but there is plenty of sex, drugs, and ritual. Bohemian occult chic. Overall, a mostly compelling read. I did lose my patience about halfway through but the story wouldn’t let me stop reading — I loved the writing but I was frustrated by the agonizingly slow pace.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I tried to get through this one, but even though it's supposedly written for adults, Ariel's character is so angsty that I think most people would have a hard time relating to her. If this weren't enough, the author created such an unrealistic view of Berkeley and the Bay Area that I felt like I was being constantly reminded that the author knew little about either. This may be more of my pet peeve since I live in the Bay Area and others may be able to move past it, but really couldn't stand it. I tried to get through this one, but even though it's supposedly written for adults, Ariel's character is so angsty that I think most people would have a hard time relating to her. If this weren't enough, the author created such an unrealistic view of Berkeley and the Bay Area that I felt like I was being constantly reminded that the author knew little about either. This may be more of my pet peeve since I live in the Bay Area and others may be able to move past it, but really couldn't stand it. These are just a few of the really annoying things that happened in the book: -Supposedly Ariel didn't fit in at Berkeley because she wore old vintage clothes, which is pretty much the heart of Berkeley/hipster style. She would have fit right in. -Supposedly Ariel's dorm on *campus* allowed the very underage students to have parties in their dorm's common room complete with free alcohol (Ariel is 17/18 in the book). Ariel was also seemingly "forced" to take a dorm with coed bathrooms because they were cheaper - I doubt this would have been the case as very few of the dorms have coed bathrooms. -Supposedly Ariel is able to take BART from Berkeley to the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco - not possible. -Ariel was able to easily enter bars/clubs in San Francisco, despite being only 18. Yeah, there are a few clubs that occasionally do all ages show, but it's pretty rare, especially for a bar. I stopped reading the book when Ariel started acting like a selfish self-absorbed asshole to her mom who is probably dying of cancer.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Burgoa

    More like a 2.5 stars Overall, the story isn’t YA appropriate, I think if it had been targeted for adults, the author could have developed the plot nicely and delivered an amazing piece. We meet Ariel, a freshman at UC Berkeley is an antisocial loner and at times appears to be a selfish brat. She has a bland personality and it gave me a hard time to grasp the story while trying to tolerate her. Ariel’s best friend went missing a year before the story started, for what I gathered, Jeni –her BFF- w More like a 2.5 stars Overall, the story isn’t YA appropriate, I think if it had been targeted for adults, the author could have developed the plot nicely and delivered an amazing piece. We meet Ariel, a freshman at UC Berkeley is an antisocial loner and at times appears to be a selfish brat. She has a bland personality and it gave me a hard time to grasp the story while trying to tolerate her. Ariel’s best friend went missing a year before the story started, for what I gathered, Jeni –her BFF- was her only friend. Now, lonely she kept to herself in the middle of a huge campus where she only studies and hands out fliers where with the image of Jeni, asking for any information that’d help find her. On her quest she meets three grad students that take under their wing. They are a strange threesome that made her feel alive. One of them is John Graves with whom she falls in love with. Honestly, during half of the book I was lost and the other half I was trying to understand what was going on. Most importantly: Warning, don’t read if you’re expecting to like the main character.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    Let me start by saying that I have enjoyed a fair amount of Block's books. I am familiar with how she combines supernatural extraordinary elements with gritty real life situations. That being said, I did not like this book. Billed as an adult novel, I found the writing bizarre, the plot and characters scattered and the overall feel of the novel was jumbled and hard to follow. I sadly did not finish this book but I did skim the last few chapters in order to find out what happened to the best frie Let me start by saying that I have enjoyed a fair amount of Block's books. I am familiar with how she combines supernatural extraordinary elements with gritty real life situations. That being said, I did not like this book. Billed as an adult novel, I found the writing bizarre, the plot and characters scattered and the overall feel of the novel was jumbled and hard to follow. I sadly did not finish this book but I did skim the last few chapters in order to find out what happened to the best friend and I am glad that I did not waste my time finishing the book in order to discover that lackluster ending.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*

    I have loved Francesca Lia Block for as long as I can remember. In middle school and high school I was enraptured with Weetzie Bat, Violet & Claire, and Echo. So when I saw this book I was very excited. It wasn't very long, which is typical of her books, so I decided to download it on my Nook rather than buy the paper copy. This book absolutely did not disappoint me at all! Lyrical, hypnotic, colorful, beautiful...this book is all these things and more! If you enjoy her earlier works, I would hi I have loved Francesca Lia Block for as long as I can remember. In middle school and high school I was enraptured with Weetzie Bat, Violet & Claire, and Echo. So when I saw this book I was very excited. It wasn't very long, which is typical of her books, so I decided to download it on my Nook rather than buy the paper copy. This book absolutely did not disappoint me at all! Lyrical, hypnotic, colorful, beautiful...this book is all these things and more! If you enjoy her earlier works, I would highly recommend this book!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lorra

    Lush writing as usual - good story. I wasn't able to predict the ending either, which I was trying to do. Lyrical prose as is typical of the author. Occasionally I found some passages cheesy or unnecessary, and as usual the main character seems to be "made whole" by a man, which I never like. The characters were lovely of course, and the plot was strong. I liked it very much. Lush writing as usual - good story. I wasn't able to predict the ending either, which I was trying to do. Lyrical prose as is typical of the author. Occasionally I found some passages cheesy or unnecessary, and as usual the main character seems to be "made whole" by a man, which I never like. The characters were lovely of course, and the plot was strong. I liked it very much.

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