by Alma Alexander
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Review by Gayle Surrette
HarperTeen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780060839611
Date: 01 February 2009 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Summer is over and Thea has returned to Wandless Academy, but things are not as they were. Ben is avoiding the group. Magpie has changed herself and is cultivating the in-crowd. Terry is busy working on the Nexus. Tess is cramming to graduate early. And Thea is trying to bury her guilt over what she did to Diego de los Reyes to stop the Spellspam. Then Humphrey May calls on Thea with the Elemental Cube and asks her to figure out how to open it. It will talk all of them to do it, but first they must learn about Tesla, the only four element Elemental in history.
Time changes people and it seems that during the teen years those changes are swifter and more drastic than at any other time of life. So when Thea returns to the academy, all her friends have changed with new drives and interest. However, the quest to figure out the Elemental Cube pulls them back together along with another student, Kristin Wallers, who'd been one of the victims of the Spellspam the previous year.
Elemental magic users are very rare and the cube was made by Tesla. The Federal Bureau of Magic thinks they need another Elemental mage to open it. Thea and her friends begin putting together the information that they need to open the cube. But things aren't simple, and Thea is beginning to suspect that the FBM isn't her friend.
As usual, Thea, Tess, Terry, Ben, Magpie, and now Kristin must work together to figure out how to solve the problem. Thea seems to have an affinity for the cube and may be an elemental mage, but of what element or elements is unknown at this point. Once they realize what the cube is and who wants it, it becomes a race to keep the cube and its potential safe from those who'd abuse it.
Some of the characters from previous books show up again in this one. Thea and her friends are more grown up in this book, still in school but they are coming into their own and moving into adulthood and its responsibilities in this book. There are some hard decisions that must be faced that will effect all of them for the rest of their lives -- they don't make their choices easily or lightly.
While these are wonderful adventures, they are also dealing with the issues that many young people have to deal with as they try to figure out where they stand on the major issues that will effect their lives. Where are the lines you won't cross? What are the important values that you're willing to fight for and maybe lose your life for? They may be young, but that doesn't mean they aren't aware of the world and its problems and their roles in society.
The characters have grown over the series and their actions and reactions reflect that. You can read the books out of order and sequence or as stand alones but they become richer when read in order so that you can see the growth and know what leads to their decisions.