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The Elementals

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  1,165 Ratings  ·  209 Reviews
From star YAauthor Francesca Lia Block comes an adult novel about astudent haunted by the disappearance ofher best friend, desperate to find and withstand thetruth.

The Elementalsis 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
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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black lamb
Feb 05, 2013 black lamb rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed


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
Dec 07, 2012 Alexandra rated it did not like it
Two words: fucking weird. If you have ever read any of FLB's books before, then you are familiar with her descriptive, lyrical writing. And it's all well and good. But I think I've outgrown it. It used to seem, when I was 15, so beautiful and different. Now it just kind of annoys me. "I heard his voice through my sobs; it seemed he was singing something, some kind of lullaby with words I wanted to possess, like weird gems, but didn't understand. Through my tears the room glowed like liquid gold. ...more
Oct 21, 2012 Cristina rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 10, 2016 Christie rated it really liked it
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
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.
Paula  Phillips
Nov 22, 2012 Paula Phillips rated it liked it
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 ...more
Oh,Francesca, Francesca...what are you doing to me??? This was a hot mess. Bringing back dead babies through group sex? Really? Oy, vey.
Jan 21, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing
“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
Crystal (Kris)
Oct 16, 2012 Crystal (Kris) rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 10, 2013 Leah rated it liked it
At first this was a bit too much like "YA: The College Years" for my taste. The constant and unnecessary detail bothered me--Block seemed to shout at the reader, "I know what's cool! Hipster boys and Tori Amos! I'm still relevant!" I love Tori as much as the next alternative girl who grew up in the 90s and early 00s, but I don't need her songs constantly referenced in an apparent attempt to seem contemporary. It will cause the book to become outdated quickly. But it redeemed itself a bit in the ...more
Apr 24, 2015 Hell rated it it was ok
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 bl ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
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.
the golden witch.
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
Dec 04, 2012 Ed added it
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
Jun 11, 2015 Izabela rated it really liked it
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.
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.
V Mignon
Jun 05, 2016 V Mignon rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2013, at-venco, ya
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 ...more
Nov 22, 2012 Karen rated it liked it
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
Feb 27, 2013 Charlie rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 16, 2013 Lighthearted rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, college, occult
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
Nov 02, 2012 Liviania rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2013 Pmshine rated it liked it
Very moody, almost excessively so from beginning to end. Not sure what I was expecting but what I got was not it. I'm still not completely sure what my opinion is.

EDIT 1/24: Okay, so I recently read something on the author's blog where some of the inspiration was from books like The Lovely Bones, The Secret History, and In The Woods, and seeing that really pinged what I did not like about the book. I haven't read In The Woods, but I have read the other two. This book fails to resonate with me be
Jan 08, 2013 Melissa rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
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. ...more
Claudia Burgoa
Jan 03, 2013 Claudia Burgoa rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, paranormal, 2013-read
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
Nov 21, 2012 amyextradot rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 20, 2012 Brittany rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Heather *live on coffee & flowers*
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
Branwen Sedai *of the White 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 woul ...more
May 08, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 08, 2012 Melanie rated it it was amazing
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.
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Thoughts on the epilogue? 4 32 Oct 28, 2012 05:55PM  
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Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.
She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a spr
More about Francesca Lia Block...

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“In order to have bliss you have to be able to accept all the parts of the other, all the wildness and the darkness. You have to be able to hold on.” 13 likes
“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.” 7 likes
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