The Elephant Mountains, by Scott Ely (2011)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Interest Level: 12-16
The Elephant MountainsThis novel for teens has several very appealing elements – a series of hurricanes wipes out New Orleans, a teenage boy has to survive on his own, using the skills his father has taught him, an exotic setting, and a romantic interest. Too bad this author treats his readers so poorly. I love weather stories, dystopia and the rich setting of Louisiana, and was really looking forward to the book. I was hugely disappointed in what he delivered – a wooden style, choppy and overly simple writing lacking nuance and plotting. This is the author’s first novel for young adults, and he seems to think they can’t understand complex sentences, nor follow complicated plots. The story is told in a brutal fashion, and Ely presents a terrifyingly realistic perspective on the aftermath of flooding. He uses a third-person narrative, but we only hear the thoughts of the protagonist, young Stephen, whose lack of emotion make him difficult to warm up to as a character. Don’t get too attached to any other character either – people keep showing up in this story and then disappear. The constant barrage of bodies is numbing, and I found myself putting the book down over and over, reluctant to continue. It took me more than three months to finally finish it. ‘Nuff said.
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