In small town Virginia, Chloe McClellan’s sophomore year of high school is rapidly turning into an epic fail. First, she becomes the target of the queen of the It-Girls in gym. Then, she’s struck by lightning . . . and that’s when things really start to get weird.
There are disconcerting gaps in her memory, and freaky weather seems to follow her everywhere. Either she’s going insane, or her accident has awoken a terrifying creature from mythology, triggering the final countdown to the extinction of humankind. Rising sea levels, droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes—far below the earth’s crust, imprisoned in ancient slumber, the elemental powers of the land grow restless . . .
Chloe finds unlikely help from a trio of male classmates: the captain of the football team, a flighty stoner with a secret, and an enigmatic transfer student who longs for the sea. All the while, she struggles with the growing realization that dragons exist, and she and her friends may be the only ones who can stop them.
In the first book in the epic new Tipping Point Prophecy series, global dragon mythology is reimagined against a backdrop of ecological disaster, high school angst, and the power of the human spirit when working in accord with the elements.
“A cautionary modern tale about climate change and pollution. The realistic, adolescent dramas buffeting [the] clever protagonist . . . are just as well-crafted as the passages on Chinese mythology and five-clawed, flying beasts.” —Slate
Read an Excerpt
Bees and the Birds
Chloe lay in the grass on the side of a gentle hill, unmoving, as a honeybee hummed through the air only a few inches from her face. It landed on the yellow crown of a buttercup, and the thin stem bowed toward the grass with its weight. Its legs were already dusted yellow with pollen as its head busied about the stamen, the tiny flower bobbing with every movement it made. Her eyes tracked as it rose again into the air with the blurry triangles of its wings returned.
It hovered in place a moment, as if deciding which direction to go, and then came closer, landing on her elbow. She watched from the corner of her eye with her chin perched on her steepled knuckles. Her heart lurched as the tickle of its legs navigated the hairs of her arm, stepping closer to her cheek in a zigzag pattern. But she kept her cool, remaining stone still, knowing that there was nothing to fear if she didn't give it reason to sting.
Chloe's favorite teacher last year, Mrs. Greenwald, had told them that a disturbingly large percentage of the honeybee population had been dying off over the last few years and that the death of the bees had a domino effect that could disrupt the balance of nature. With no bees, there was no pollination of the flowers, and that meant far less of the fruits and vegetables that humans and animals rely on to survive. And of course, no more honey. Chloe loved honey.
Some of her classmates, like Kendra Roberts, the Queen Bee herself, had made a joke out of it, saying, "Whatever, less bugs is less bugs, right? My dad runs like a massive bioengineering company that totally knows how to pollinate flowers without bees. And I use Splenda anyway." Her drones had all giggled in compliance before returning their fleeting attentions to the latest texting exchange. But Chloe couldn't stop thinking about what Mrs. Greenwald had said then, noting that "some scientists and theorists speculate that the death of the bees is an early sign of the decline of Mother Earth itself," the beginning of the end.
A breeze kicked up and the bee let go of its hold, carried away toward the pond at the bottom of the hill. Chloe watched it until she lost the receding speck among the dance of dandelion parachutes that pinwheeled through the air to land gently on the sheen of the water. Just then, a small fish jumped, no doubt investigating the slight disturbance on the pond's surface, hoping to find a tasty gnat rather than the wayward seed tuft. From high up she heard the cry of a hawk, and her eyes found its red-tailed form circling beneath the gathering clouds as it watched the flop of the fish far below ... All of life's little movements, flowing in their natural cycles of cause and effect.
She loved this place — alone with her thoughts, at peace in a way she could not find at home or among her peers. Here it didn't matter that her mom was overworked and unlucky in love, or that Chloe had worn the same pair of running shoes every day for months and they smelled like something had died in them.
Another fish jumped, and her gaze returned to the concentric circles that rippled out from that spot. Then another? Soon sunfish and perch were taking to the air with frantic tail-flapping leaps all across the pond before splashing down to the unremarkable looking water.
Chloe sat up to get a better look, amazed that so many fish could even live in this pond, let alone all decide to try to escape it at once. Over the summer, she'd spent most of her free time on this hillside, hiding from her mom and Brent and the struggle to be cool. She came here to read and watch the animals. To listen to the wind in the leaves and fantasize about all the places she would escape to when she was older. But she had never seen the fish act this way.
Maybe they could sense her anguish, offering their joined protest over her need to report to school again tomorrow. The tenth grade — the first day at Charlottesville High School.
A blustery wind whipped through the trees, and her unkempt, brown hair lashed her cheek. Being in the accelerated program had always seemed like a blessing throughout her three years at Buford Middle school. But now, as the other girls in her class laid out their competitively slutty outfits for the big day while gossiping over the phone about which boys they hoped to find in homeroom, Chloe was left wondering if her bookish ways and latest Walmart fashion wouldn't prove a horrible curse. She was not ready to face the morning.
She tracked the red-tailed hawk as it sailed into the clearing above the pond and fluttered to a graceful, wing-tucked perch on a branch overhanging the water. Still the fish were jumping, but the raptor only watched with jerky ticks of its head rather than going for the easy meal. Something about the scene didn't seem right. Then the mad squawking of a murder of crows raced overhead, and twenty or so of the black birds landed in the surrounding trees opposite the hawk.
Their chatter continued as they also seemed to watch the riled water. Smaller birds joined the odd vigil as well: sparrows and robins, chickadees and blue jays, more and more flapping to join the ring around the pond every second.
Chloe stood, blue eyes squinting in the wind as she put her hair in a ponytail with callused hands. Her nails were bitten short with nervous attention. The rain started a few moments later, tapping the leaves above her with a building rhythm. She looked up at the dark clouds above the branches as heavy drops spattered across her forehead.
"Where did you come from?" she asked the storm, as a jagged claw of lightning flashed across the sky. She counted, "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three —" and the thunder roll followed. She wanted to continue her observation of the strange avian gathering, but a soaking sheet of rain descended, blocking her view.
Chloe ran, sprinting toward home, as lightning fell again with a deafening crack. Her feet carried her deftly through the woods without need of a path to guide her. She let out a merry yelp as the cold wet clung to her shoulders, but she didn't stop the liberating run until she'd reached her back door a mile away.
She did not see the muddy fountain of bubbles that rose in the center of the pond, nor did she glimpse the silvery form that stirred beneath the surface and then was gone.
As quickly as it started, the fish stopped leaping, the birds scattered, and the storm moved on. In moments, the water settled again into a glassy sheen.
* * *
"Chloe McClellan, stop right there and step back to the door! How many times do I need to ask you to take your shoes off when you come in?" Audrey McClellan noticed that her daughter was soaked and shivering as well. "You're dripping wet! Stay there while I get a towel."
Chloe hopped on one foot and then the other as she peeled off the soiled running shoes. She spied her cat, Shipwreck, watching from across the room. She'd found him bleeding in the gutter from a hit-and-run four years ago and had nursed him back to health. He'd been her constant shadow around the house ever since. His green eyes betrayed no emotion as his tattered ears swiveled to track the return of Chloe's mother. Then a fresh towel that smelled like her childhood was thrust in Chloe's face. "Thanks, Mom."
"Didn't you see that there was a storm coming?"
"No, actually. It kind of came out of nowhere," Chloe answered while toweling off her head.
"I'd almost believe you if you hadn't come home drenched in pond water every other day for the last three months," Audrey retorted with the hint of a smile.
"I wasn't swimming this time, I swear! And the birds were acting really weird!"
Audrey returned to ironing her uniform from Positive Pete's Diner as the cable news prattled on in an endless cycle of nothing, but Chloe could tell that her mom wasn't finished ... "Well, if I were you, I'd stop acting so weird; you're starting high school tomorrow. You could use a few more friends that don't have four legs or wings."
There it was — it only took an instant for the high dam that Chloe had built to block out the failure of her social life to buckle and crack. For three months, she had neglected the friendships she'd worked to gain last year, avoiding plans that would have kept her informed of the youth politics of greater Charlottesville, Virginia, and drifting further from the ability to participate in normal teen conversation. She blamed it on the fact that she'd always been one of the nerdiest and least developed girls in her class, but still, none of it interested her ... or at least that's what she'd told herself.
"Thanks, Mom," she muttered again while toweling off her skinny legs. "Where's Brent?" she said in an attempt to redirect.
"He'll be here tomorrow night, and I'd really appreciate it if you could try to say his name without wincing."
"Ah, let's see: Brent. Brrrrent. Good ol' Brent," she tossed the towel on the floor and shook her head. "Nope, sorry Mom, he's still a bit of an ass —"
"Okay, a bit of a jerk then."
Audrey turned on her with a wounded scowl. "Yeah, well, he's a bit sweet too. And I'm not sure if you'd noticed, but your dad's not coming back, and I'm not getting any younger here."
Shipwreck wisely chose that moment to saunter from the room.
Chloe felt sorry for her comment, but mentioning Dad was a forbidden topic! She could feel her face getting red. It was the last night before the start of Chloe's nine-month prison sentence, and in typical fashion, the McClellan women were gearing up for another shouting match ...
We interrupt this Labor Day broadcast with Breaking News: Reports have just come in from the Associated Press and our affiliates in Asia that a massive 9.2 earthquake has rocked the Quinghai Province in central China. The epicenter was located beneath Quinghai Lake, the largest lake in China, only thirty-five kilometers west of the provincial capital of Xining. Initial reports describe massive devastation throughout the city and surrounding townships, and early casualty estimates are as high as two hundred thousand dead.
The cable news anchor shuffled his papers and put on a look of grave concern.
I'm being told that this is only the eleventh earthquake of such high magnitude since 1900, but that five of those have occurred in only the last three years.
He paused as someone continued talking into his ear-bud.
We will be back with continued coverage of this story throughout the night, and of course our thoughts and prayers go with the people of China.
And just like that, the McClellan fight was forgotten and Chloe was reminded that her problems were very small. "Wow, another big one: Haiti, Yoshu, Chile, Alaska, Siberia, and now this. They're coming more frequently, like the planet is getting angry," she said. "Maybe the world really is ending?" "Well, unless it ends tonight, you're still going to school tomorrow," interrupted her mother. "Now go wash your hands and put on some dry clothes for dinner."
"Mom, hundreds of thousands of people are dying in China and you're worried about wet clothes and dirty hands?"
Chloe clicked her wet-socked heels and saluted crisply. "Oh captain, my captain."
"I wouldn't have to boss you if you didn't show up with dirt caked under your nails every night. Now hop to it, I want to have a nice sit down meal with you before my shift starts; we need to celebrate the big day tomorrow!"
"Honestly, Mom, except for how bad it's gonna suck, what's so big about starting high school? Everybody does it."
"Daughter, trust me here, high school can be one of the best times of your life. You've got the brains and grades to go to college, and a good one, and that will be even more fun. But I didn't get to go to college; all I had was high school, and I lived it large." Audrey unplugged the iron and left it to cool on the board, lost for a moment in a memory of youth.
Yeah, until I came along and ruined everything, Chloe thought with a pang of guilt.
Audrey snapped out of it and started to change into the uniform right there. Once again, Chloe couldn't help but admire her mom's thirty-four-year-old body, wondering if her dad's genes would ever relinquish dominance of her looks.
"While you're young and free, you should live every day you have as large as you can, 'cause whether it's bills or bad luck, when it's gone, it's hard to get back ... That's what you owe to those poor people in China. Live big every day, starting with tomorrow."CHAPTER 2
The Worst First Day
Chloe took a seat in the back row of her homeroom class, American Civics, resolute in her decision to keep her hand down and her answers to herself unless she was called on. She had carried the whispered title of "brownnoser" through all the grades that brought her here, and she did not intend to foster its return for these final three years of adolescent purgatory. She recognized some of the faces that filled in the empty desks, but many others were new to her, coming from the other junior high or private school programs that fed into Charlottesville High School's three hundred-plus sophomore class. She hoped she could remain fairly anonymous.
Liz Legrand walked into the room with a designer handbag instead of the backpack she and Chloe had used to carry their butterfly jars only two summers back. Liz had traded her muddy sandals for high heels and her friendship with Chloe for a spot in the Kendra Roberts fan club. Chloe had seen it all coming, but couldn't help but stare at her old friend's over-applied makeup and new, curve-flaunting clothing. Liz waved at one of her new cohorts across the room with a pearly smile before her eyes settled on the last of the empty seats — directly in front of or beside Chloe. The smile faltered.
Chloe had been dreading this moment. "Hey, Liz, how was your summer?" she offered as her old friend came closer.
Liz took the seat in front of her, looking a little pinched. "It was great, yours?"
"Too short, as always ..." and the awkward pause stretched.
"You still collect butterflies?" asked Liz with a hint of derision.
"No, I've moved on to birds and squirrels, but the killing jar is huge," she answered with a smirk.
Liz laughed as the tension was dispelled between them. Chloe gave an internal sigh of relief.
Liz turned toward her with a conspiratorial whisper. "I'm kind of dating Paul Markson now."
It was said as if the ground might break open with the delivery of the news, but Chloe couldn't remember who Paul Markson even was. "Which one is he?"
"He's a junior on the varsity soccer team. They're state champions!"
This, too, was meant to shake the earth, but again Chloe failed to register the significance. She tried feebly to mask her total lack of excitement. "That is so awesome!" she said, though it came out stilted. Liz's face hardened again. She might have been turning to the dark side, but she wasn't stupid.
"Yeah, it's kind of a big deal for me." She spun back around to answer a text from her new friend across the room.
Chloe's heart sank, and she looked longingly out the window. It was sunny and beautiful outside, but already she could tell that this day was going to suck. She turned when the teacher ambled into the room, somehow already disheveled and winded by the effort just to get here. His button-down shirt was sporting yellow pit stains as he began to write his name on the board with a shaky hand. The waft of cigarette smoke was evident all the way across the classroom.
It was only then that Chloe noticed the hunched figure in the seat beside her. He was draped over the desk with his face buried in his crossed arms. Chloe had never seen him before. He glanced out from behind the shield of fingers to catch Chloe's stare. He was Asian and looked older than fifteen, with chiseled cheek bones and sad, beautiful eyes. His red, glassy gaze met Chloe's for only a moment, and then he hid his face again.
Chloe faced forward, embarrassed, as if she'd intruded. And though she felt even worse for thinking it: At least someone in this school is having a worse day than me.
* * *
She stood at the front of a bustling cafeteria with her tray of semi-edible, mass-produced food steaming in her hands. A third of the school shared her lunch period — a mix of almost four hundred students from all three grades — sorting themselves into messy little groups that would shift and tighten in the weeks to come. Chloe was in a financial assistance program and qualified for subsidized lunches, but looking down at her near-sauceless pizza wedge, clump of browning iceberg lettuce, and green banana, she made a mental note to remember to brown-bag it from now on. The prospect of the walk before her was no more appetizing.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Elementalists"
Copyright © 2014 Chris Sharp.
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book. I received an ARC copy through a friend. I am not an avid reader of the fantasy genre, which might be why this book appealed to me since it did such a wonderful job of blending reality with fantasy. The underlying mythology about dragons made the fantasy even more believable. Unlike other YA fantasy books I have read, this book is a slow burn and puts worthwhile effort into fully developing the characters: in the beginning, the author sets up the typical "high school" stereotypes and then works throughout the book to undo what you would expect. As a result, the book picks up speed as you get farther in, until it ends with a bang (literally). This book is rare in that it is about what happens leading up to the apocalypse, which makes me really excited for the next book in the series which will take on the post apocalyptic world. The author also does a fantastic job of offering a real view of what teenagers are doing: it doesn't shy from topics of sex and drugs, but handles these issues in a real and balanced way. So this might not be appropriate for the tweens/Harry Ptter age kids. It is more for the 14+ age. I can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to read this book. Hopefully by then the whole series will be complete.
I love Dragon stories and will pretty much read anything with them in it. A lot of them have been hit an miss but The Elementalists was a home run! I absolutely flew through this, and that's saying something because it's nearly 400 pages!! The Elementalists isn't your typical Dragon book. It's set in modern times and the Dragons aren't the main theme, they play a big part of the plot but it's so much more than a Dragon book. I must admit that I didn't read the blurb before starting this so I was expecting magic users and tons of dragons and what I got was a modern tale of cataclysmic events heralding the coming of something unbelievable. It was fan-freaking-tastic!! It was fascinating reading the lore of The Tipping Prophecy and I loved that the author had researched Chinese Dragon myths so well. It really showed during the story. The best thing about this book, for me, was the characters. I loved Chloe. She is strong, determined, smart and nice. She starts High School with the intention of keeping a low profile but a series of events make her the center of attention. She joins the track team and is soon seen as one of the best the school has ever had. She then gets struck by lightening and survives, which leads to the nickname Lightening girl (both for track and after getting hit). She hasn't a hope of flying below the radar after that. I loved her attitude and spirit. We also have Kirin, the transfer student from China, who Chloe has a crush on. Stan, the enigmatic stoner and Ezra, the captain of the football team and all round womaniser. Each of these boys play a big part in Chloes life and each brings something special to the story. I loved seeing Chloe deal with each of the boys and cant wait to see more from them. While reading about the cataclysmic events happening all over the world was so frightening, it added an extra something to the story. The fact that crazy things are happening everywhere really gets you thinking! In The Elementalists, all the events that are happening are a portent to the Tipping Point Prophecy. Chloe doesn't believe in Dragons nor had she much interest in things like that but when she sees what's happening all over the world and when she sees the piercing blue eyes everywhere, she knows she will have to dig deep and get the answers. What she finds will change her life and the lives of those she loves forever. I loved finding out about the lore along with Chloe, it was scary but fascinating reading. I'm finding it hard to express how much I loved this book!! I'm trying to put my feelings into words and all that comes to mind is "an epic adventure that's unlike anything I was expecting", but that doesn't sufficiently express what I think! This book was superbly written and absolutely captivating and I still find it hard to think that this is a debut author. While this isn't the most action packed book, it's got so much happening and such depth to it that you will fly through the pages. It's a mash up of contemporary YA, fantasy, mythology and Dragons all rolled into one phenomenal story. It's the first book in the series and if this is anything to go by then this series is going to be EPIC. All in all an absolutely amazing debut and I can't wait till book 2 comes out because that ending sure left me with my jaw open ;)
Who knew I liked YA fantasy books?! I read this during my commute and was riveted. I'll definitely recommend it to my teenage nieces and nephews but wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to my adult friends, as well. The characters are fascinating, particularly Chloe. Love the dragons, too. Looking forward to the next installment. I'm hooked!
Nice story but quite a few mispelt words. I wish I had the other books to read though.
I absolutely loved this book! At first I wasn't sure because of the dragons and all but no! I loved it! I could not put it down! I COMPLETELY RECOMMEND YOU TO READ THIS BOOK EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT SURE YOU WON'T REGRET IT