Elephants Never Forgotten
(Middle Grade Sci-fi)
By Ellis Nelson
Receiving a herd of micro-elephants upon her grandfather’s death, young Nigella Rose embarks on the mystery of missing elephants. Purportedly a massive outbreak wiped them out ages ago, but as clues start popping up, Nigella and her friend begin to believe otherwise. In the end, Nigella finds more than she’s bargained for.
Unlike my last review, here, the tone throughout matches beautifully. Whether deep in description or flowing with dialogue, the words fit and have a great ease to them, perfect for the reader level and the age group of the protagonists. All of this helps make it a quick read, as shown below.
For a while, they would follow this eastward progression. The girls could hear a chorus of frogs echoing through in the early morning light, despite the noise of the engine. As the sun rose higher, it started to burn off the fog. Its vapor easily joined the Delta’s humidity. Nigella felt more energized and more confident as the sun rose higher and higher.
As you can see, it flows nicely with a wonderful rhythm while not dwelling too long on any one particular point or detail, like many newbie writers tend to do. I found it straightforward and refreshing, in this way.
As for the characters, they were very distinct—the ones that actually enter our frame of reference long enough to identify with. Nigella is a young girl who has lost her mother, and now her grandfather. The author does a good job express her loss and need to feel closure.
Nigella’s best friend, Kepler, comes off best friend-like, accommodating and supporting Nigella whenever she needs it, though, at times, falling flat with her jokey nature. Humor is difficult no matter what age group.
Truthfully, my favorite character was Martin, their pilot in Africa. His voice and character were so distinct right from the get-go. All the small details he provided in both action and dialogue were sparkling, as seen in this quote.
“Bezi, he likes to drink. When he drinks too much, he gets sick. Today Bezi is sick, so I fly for him.”
And on that, it’s best to move onto the next topic, which is also the reason for my lower score.
While the characters glowed, for the most part, and the writing rolled, there were still some galling flaws in the story altogether. The main one: plot!
The story doesn’t really get rolling till more than halfway through, and even then, it goes at a slow pace. The first scene, in fact, is a visit to the vet, which offers no insight to the real story whatsoever. Essentially, there is no draw, nothing that grabs and pulls along.
This is further exemplified with each chapter ending. Most authors plan meticulously how a chapter will end in order to stop on a high-note. When done well, the reader is given the sense of urgency and continues reading—the definition of an unput-downable book. Here, however, each chapter, on average, ends with a mundane action. In fact, quite often, we see the chapter close with her wrist phone ringing. The next chapter she answers it and it’s her friend—surprise?
The sad thing is…there is a story hidden in the book. Unfortunately, it is out of order or crammed into certain pages where mass info-dumps are thrust upon the reader. If these paragraphs were unfurled and delved out in a creative way, along with the real plot shuffled around to create a little suspense, this book would be a thousand times better. As is, it just barely passes okay readability.
There is promise to this book. The story had a real message and in certain areas really shined. Nonetheless, most of the time, it drags, dwelling on the everyday events of its characters that are, truly, well written, even if not sparklingly entertaining. For the age group it’s aimed at, this book is perfect with word and structure, but most might find it a bit bland, unless they have an immense love for elephants.
You can buy her book, here.
And check out the author’s website, here.