Living Things is the sequel to Elemental and the second volume in the Heart of the World series which follows the adventures of Tom Allenby, a regular teen who unwittingly (or by higher design) finds himself in a sleepy village called Rooksbourne where all of the planet's elemental energy flows. In the first book, Tom discovered that his destiny is to defend the world and he has come to terms with having strange elemental powers, thanks to his Earthstone. I hadn't read the first novel but I could still enjoy the book as there are enough references to past events to make it easy to understand.
Tom is a powerful being with an important destiny to fulfil, but he is also a regular teen, trying to fit in at school, having his first romantic inklings and hanging out with his friends. This helps to keep some realism in the story, despite its supernatural context.
The atmosphere reminded me of a cross between Grange Hill and Harry Potter, with a dose of Doctor Who thrown in for good measure. Weird things are going on and it all seems to be focusing around the trees, with strange faces appearing in the bark, electrical charges which don't follow the rules of physics racing around the woods and school buildings and people getting burnt if they touch the trees. Tom knows that this bodes trouble, but little does he realise just how much danger he, and the whole world, are in, when a new enemy awakens, determined to wipe out the entire human race.
It's an enjoyable read that will appeal to teens because of the age of the protagonists and also the end-of-the-world atmosphere, similar to zombie/apocalypse type books and films. Even as a forty-something, I still enjoyed it though !
star rating : 4.5/5
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.