Amie Kaufman is a writing superstar. Not only did she launch Obsidio, the final book in the Illuminae Files, a fortnight ago with her co-writer Jay Kristoff, but also released her first novel she’s written alone: Ice Wolves, the first in the Elementals.
Her audience this time is much younger than usual, aimed at children between 8 and 12, and definitely has a lot less swearing than her other young adult science fiction! This novel is perfect for any keen young reader (and adult readers too), especially if they have a love of magic, dragons and wolves. I mean, really, who doesn’t? The novel explores the importance of belonging and friendship, which any child would closely relate to. Everyone wants to join a pack and find a place to belong. It’s how we’re wired as humans.
The series is set in a world where certain individuals have a stronger connection with nature than others. During the year they turn twelve, these individuals transform into a far more elemental form, such as a dragon or wolf. Anders and his twin sister Rayna were orphaned young and have been living on the streets for most of their lives. I love tough as nails Rayna and how she’ll do anything to protect her brother Anders, and it’s while trying to protect him that their whole lives change.
In their city, two elemental forms are feuding: the Scorch Dragons and the Ice Wolves. The Scorch Dragons are the reason why Anders and Rayna lost their parents’ and they’ve grown up fearing the shadows of a dragon in flight and respecting the Ice Wolves that protect them. So when Rayna transforms into a Scorch Dragon in front of everyone, Anders is terrified for her as the city’s Ice Wolves attack then she’s kidnapped by Scorch Dragons. What’s worse, though, is he transforms into an Ice Wolf. Born to be enemies, Anders refuses to give up his sister and so his journey begins, not only to find and rescue his sister from the evil Scorch Dragons, but also to learn how to stand on his own without his sister’s protection.
This book is a delightful read and will keep you up late chewing through the pages. The characters are diverse in both race and sexuality, which is fantastic for a novel aimed at children. We need more of these books where diversity is the norm. I also liked the slightly larger font size. Why can’t all books be like this? Is this a sign I’m getting old?