Tuesday, October 15, 2013


A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future. Enter the world of the Elementals, which James Dashner called “completely gripping and full of intrigue, revelation, mystery, and suspense.”

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an element—earth, water, wind, or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe.

In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the Plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’s world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine.


Genre busting!

If you pop into your local indie bookstore (or library), you’ll notice that adult books are usually arranged by genre: thriller, chick lit, humorous, historical, romance, etc. Head over to the YA section, and it’s quite likely that many (if not all) of these separate genres are shelved together. If there’s separation, it’ll most likely be between contemporary YA and fantasy.

This may not seem particularly noteworthy, but as a writer, I’ve got to tell you: it’s incredibly liberating. While an author of books for adults may be pigeonholed as a writer of thrillers, or romances, or horror, YA authors have the opportunity to branch out. I can write contemporary YA (e.g. Five Flavors of Dumb, a 2011 Battle book), fantasy (e.g. Elemental and Firebrand), and thrillers (e.g. the forthcoming Imposter), and be assured that they’ll (generally) be shelved together. Readers who enjoy one book can move easily to another without having to search several different shelves.

Now, I have to say that not every YA author is given the opportunity to write such a variety of books. We need our editors and publishers to release them, after all. Luckily for me, I have an editor, Liz Waniewski, and publisher, Dial, who will follow me into exciting new projects. With every new book I feel like I’m getting to write for the first time. It’s exhilarating and sometimes nerve-wracking, but it’s never, never stale.

Of course, none of this would work if no one read the books. And here’s where things come back to you: the reader. See, the other thing I adore about YA is that teens are generally far more willing than adults to try new genres and new authors. If you’ve read all of the books on the Battle list (and I assume you have), then you’ll have read 20 very different authors, and books representing several different genres. Maybe you loved some and didn’t like others, but you’ll have read more widely than most adults do in years. Trust me when I say that exposing yourself to a variety of styles and genres is a sure-fire way to open your mind.

So here’s a challenge: Even when the Battle is over, try to keep reading new books and new authors. Devour everything you find, and ask yourself not just what you like but also what you don’t, and why. In the meantime, thank you for making it possible for me to wake up every day wondering what I’m going to write next. YA readers are the best, and YA is by far the best genre in all of literature . . . even though it isn’t a genre at all!


Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA's Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.  Find out more about Antony at his website.

Meet Antony John this year at the Book Battle, so  make sure you bring copies of Elemental to  get it signed.

8 Delicious Comments:

Anonymous said...

Elemental takes place in a dystopian world ridden by the Plague. On Hatteras Island live a colony of 15 people. Consisting of the Guardians, masters of the four elements, fire, water, earth, and wind. Also, there lives kids wishing to one day be Apprentices. The main character Thomas doesn't have an element. He endures suffering from the colony because of this.
-Wentzville Middle School

Anonymous said...

YAY! ELEMENTAL! *explodes* Definitely my favorite out of the list!

~Hazelwood West Middle School~

Anonymous said...

I love every single character in this book. The setting is great too! Same with the plot! :)Well... EVERYTHING is great about this! It's such a good book! If you haven't read it, READ IT! You will not regret it!

-Hazelwood West Middle School

Anonymous said...

I feel like rereading Elemental again, because it is such a great read! :) This idea for a story is so unique; I've never read anything like it!

Hazelwood West Middle School

Anonymous said...


-Hazelwood West Middle

Anonymous said...

In my school library, there'll be that occasional person who wanders in the library, and then comes to the front desk, confessing to the librarian that they can't find anything they like to read. (*GASP*)and then if I were to be in the library in that time, my awesome librarian would turn to me, and ask my friend and I to recommend a book for that person. So I ask them, "What genre of books do you like to read?" And they'd hesitate, but then start by saying, "Well, I kind of like—" And I'd cut them off saying, "Elemental. By Antony John. Read it. You'll love it!" And some end up reading it and liking it! :) Yay! I'd totally recommend this book to anyone! So if you are reading this and haven't read Elemental yet... go read it! Now! As soon as you can get your hands on it! It is a must-read!! :)

~Hazelwood West Middle School

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, I think this actually happened (lost colony of Roanoke) I don't know, but that's what I thought; I might be wrong. But I love how the author put a fantasy twist on it! It was very exciting to read! :)

Hazelwood West Middle School

Anonymous said...

What if what happened in Elemental actually happened in the future!!!?! With the elements, and the plague, and the pirates, and everything! Whoa!! That'd be so cool, but at the same time, maybe not, because most people would be infected with the Plague! Aah! :D

~Hazelwood West Middle School

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