Let me start off by saying I read and largely enjoyed "Ariel" (I found the middle to end parts a bit of a drag), and was looking forward to this one (it was released in hardcover around the time I picked up "Ariel" in paperback.) So I'm not new to the story; though I do fully suspect to get a few comments over my review. Sorry kids, but I paid my money for the book and spent my time to read it, and this is my opinion, live with it.
Summing up my feelings of "Elegy Beach": dark, depressing and difficult to follow.
I didn't enjoy "Elegy Beach" half as much as "Ariel"; the first 1/3 or so of the book was very slow-paced and frankly, confusing, meandering to and fro in search of a way to go and not finding it. Boyett plunges us into the post-Change world 27 years after, and in so doing plunges us into a culture that can seem almost alien, as little is made clear, or even explained; clues to piece it together are rare to non-existent. It reminded me of "A Clockwork Orange" in many ways, particularly the language and ways of speaking. Adding to this are two problems: his characters are poorly fleshed out, making it hard to sympathize or even feel what direction they are coming from; and his use of a consistent but odd lack of punctuation (commas and especially question marks, so questions are rendered as statements) makes for reading that trips you, while serving to make character seem very flat and listless. When I read a book, I picture characters and exchanges in my head; I can't seem to do that with this one. Oh, and then there are the flashbacks--he jumps back and forth among events without warning, causing you to stop and backtrack to make sure you haven't missed anything. Do this enough times and you realize no, really, you didn't.
And this is before the halfway mark, by which point I almost gave up. The book is very dark and depressing; there are no optimistic characters (and yes, even post-apocalypse, there will always be someone who sees the sunny side); cynicism and lack of hope abounds. There is no hope for a bright new day. It makes you not care if the characters live or die, because they instill so little sympathy in you. I ready fantasy to escape, not be mired in misery. Yet like a car wreck I couldn't help but look, to keep reading in hopes that it might redeem itself. Even the return of the unicorn, Ariel, brings little joy; she's every bit as miserable as the humans, it seems, though her reasons for being so are made very clear (and are rather sad in their own right.)
Perseverance paid off, after a fashion; once our protagonists get on the move, the action picks up along with the pace. New characters show up and battles ensue; things actually get moving and become interesting, if still slow (much talk, not enough walk). The ending leaves open the option of other stories to be told, though it's a bit ambiguous what they might be.
All in all, I can only recommend "Elegy Beach" if you have the patience to deal with the wordiness and odd grammar/punctuation choices in it, as well as the often unclear story. If you're expecting another "Ariel", you WILL be disappointed, trust me.