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Author: Jolley, Dan
[1st in the series] Before moving away, Gabe and his three friends look for one last adventure in San Francisco and unknowingly set off events that places them as the only barrier between this world and another one full of nightmarish creatures that want to destroy their city.
Five Elements, 1
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.40
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 186691
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 72156
Kirkus Reviews (07/15/16)
School Library Journal (08/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (00/11/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 08/01/2016 Gr 5–8—The first installment in a middle grade occult series set in San Francisco in a twisted alternate world. Gabe Conway is miserable because his guardian, Uncle Steve, a peripatetic professor of the occult, is about to move their family away from Gabe's friends Kazuo "Kaz" Smith and twins Brett and Lily Hernandez. As a final adventure before Gabe's departure, the buddies steal a map from Gabe's uncle and follow it to a secret chamber within the city's old sewer tunnels. There, in what they think is a meaningless ritual, they bind themselves to one another and to the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire. The ritual turns out to be the real thing, and it sets off a lot of creepy consequences. What saves this book from the utter predictability of its setup are the gradual unfolding of characters' hidden motivations and the true scariness of the evil creatures released by the companions' explorations. While their ages and grades are never stated, the adventurers interact like middle schoolers. Their ethnicities reflect the cultural diversity of San Francisco, but the novel doesn't mention race or culture beyond a few Spanish words and some references to tea. Just a touch of self-aware humor leavens the blend of peril and action that drive the plot. As Kaz says of a newly discovered danger, "A cult. Of course it's a cult. And not just any cult! A magical doomsday cult! The only thing that would make it better is if aliens figured in somehow." Indeed. VERDICT Extremely entertaining and sure to be popular with fans of Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson" books and the "39 Clues" series.—Beth Wright Redford, Richmond Elementary School Library, VT - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.