I hate writing book reviews for books such as this. I just hate it. I do not feel, in any way, I can do the book justice. This is a wonderful little gem of a book.
The Five Elements tells the story of two friends and the paths onto which they are forced and the choices they then make. Because of the ages of our protagonists, I am sure some would classify this as young adult. To me, it is a story about people who just happen to be young and, therefore, enjoyable by all. As I read, I certainly did not feel spoken down to and the literary quality is quite high. And, no angst.
The writing style is very descriptive rather than dialog heavy and is written in an almost "Sliding Doors" manner. That is to say, when our two protagonists split, they take wildly different paths but eventually end up in the same place. The chapters rotate between characters and get longer as the tale progresses. I did find myself enjoying my stay with one character rather more than the other. Which actually surprised me.
The magic system involved is unusual and, as can probably be guessed by the title, involves using the elements: fire, earth, air, and water. And, the fifth element. (You will have to read to discover.) I really liked this take on the magic system. I also liked that it did not only involve magic, but also science. I am a sucker for characters who are smart and use science.
My only problem with this book was character names. (I really never would have guessed how much names make a difference in my ability to enjoy a story.) There were several characters/classes whose names start with 'E' and five letters long. And, another whose name started with an 'E' but was longer. Now, if these are familiar names, it would not be an issue for me but because they were beyond what is normal, I kept mixing them up and forgetting about whom we were speaking. It made things a tad bit confusing for me. It was at best, however, a minor irritant.
Oh, and, there is no snark.