Monday, December 27, 2010

Elixir by Hilary Duff

Clea Raymond lives an extraordinary life. The daughter of renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC figure, she has been in the spotlight her entire life. Followed by the paparazzi, she resents the attention that is lavished on her for her looks alone because she has so much more to offer.

Clea Raymond has a unique gift. A proficient photographer, in all her pictures, there is little something extra, and it's not just a result of her talented eye. There is always an extra photo that she didn't take. And, as she discovered at a young age, those photos always lead to a place where some tragedy is about to occur that Clea can prevent.

Two years ago, her father disappeared while on a humanitarian mission and is presumed dead, but that doesn't stop Clea and her mother from continuing to do good throughout the world. On one such trip to Columbia, she meets Race, the guide for the trip. She feels a connection to him but cannot explain why. Was it something in their past or possibly in their past lives? Whatever has brought them together is threatening to tear them apart forever. As the mystery of her father's disappearance unravels, Clea discover that she has powers that are bigger than anything she could have anticipated .

"I see you", he answered as if it were obvious. "It's not lke I see a place, or a time, or a name: just you. Youre essence. Your soul..." - Sage

I have to first start out by pointing out that the synopsis of this novel was a bit off in my opinion. I don’t know whether it was due to bad editing or writing for that matter, but the synopsis (which serves as a hook for readers) really felt jumbled up with too much information. I didn’t really figure out what the book was about until I was actually further along in my reading. With that said, one of the things that really attracted me to this book was not the plot synopsis, but rather the beautiful cover. I know it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, but in my experience, some good covers serve as a prelude to pretty amazing books. This time, unfortunately, I wasn’t so sure that was the case.

It wasn’t so much that Elixir was a bad novel, but rather that it wasn’t as amazing or captivating as other books I’ve read as of late. Sadly enough, it fell into this horrid in between were I really wanted to get into what was happening with the storyline and the characters, but there was always something holding me back. It was as though anytime anything something scary, or exciting happened, I couldn’t find it in myself to get excited or scared.

Elixir by Hilary Duff was a fairly easy read and all in all, it did not take me more than a day or so to finish. I know there are a lot of skeptics out there (my best friend included) who are reluctant to read this book simply because of whom the author is. Yet, I’ve always had a soft spot for Hilary Duff (seeing as though I was a Lizzie McGuire fan) and I quickly decided she could do no worse than some other authors in the young adult circuit. I was surprised, to say the least, at how organized and fairly well-written Elixir was. I know she collaborated with Elise Allen in writing this book, and maybe that’s why the writing was so good, but even so, I was pleasantly shocked with that development.

The idea behind the story was also pretty amazing, but it wasn’t executed to its maximum capacity. To me the authors focused so much on the build up that they fell flat on the resolution. The thought of a mysterious guy popping up in only some photos the protagonist takes was really interesting, but rather than pursuing just that, the element of reincarnation, tragic love, searching for the lost father and the elixir of life were woven into that and there was just a lot going on. For one thing, the explanation behind the picture thing felt a little bit cliché and even the characters seemed to have a hard time believing it. Also, the main character, Clea Raymond, has dreams about her past lives with the mysterious guy, Sage, but rather than asking him about it (as I believe most logical people in an illogical situation would do) she seems to conveniently forget to. The story behind some of her past lives was interesting, but when they’re finally explained, it felt incredibly rushed. And though the author tried to tie in all the themes I mentioned earlier, I could never quite understand how could Clea’s father knew so much about Sage and his tragic circle with Clea’s past lives.

To me, what helped this novel shine through the somewhat hazy storyline were the actual characters, especially the secondary ones. To me Rayna, Clea’s best friend, was a ball of sunshine and fun. Though I expected her to be jealous of Clea’s fame, and maybe even act a little catty, she was the total opposite. She lit up the page with her exaggerated and over the top personality and it was sweet to see how loyal and protecting she was of Clea. Clea’s mom was also refreshing. For one thing, she wasn’t one of those overbearing and totally clueless mom’s most Y.A. authors write about, but rather she was a cool mom. She had her issues concerning Clea’s dad supposed death, but she was supportive of her daughter’s decisions and her love for Clea was evident.

The main characters were also nice. I like that Clea acted so maturely and the fact that she travelled throughout the globe as a photojournalist was pretty cool but she kind lost me when it came to dealing with Sage . She was incredibly quick to judge him (thinking him to be a serial killer) and just as rapid to change her opinion and fall in love with him. How she pined for him after only a couple of kisses border-lined on pathetic, but then again, she was in love with him in her former lives, so I could chalk it up to that, but still...weird. Sage had some swoon worthy moments but he was kept too much of an enigma throughout the book. Even when the “truth” came out, I still would have liked to learn more about Sage, as opposed to he was madly in love with Clea and her former selves. Finally Ben, Clea’s other best friend, was a good addition to the book. He was a funny contradiction (a scholar who believes in incubus and the Elixir of Life) but he was also sweet and charming, and I found myself rooting for him more than a couple of times throughout the novel.

A second novel is all ready in the works and I hope this one will focus more on all the doubts and question concerning: Sage and Clea’s tragic circle, the Elixir of Life, and Clea’s dad’s disappearance, that Elixir left me with.

Consensus: All in all, Hilary Duff’s Elixir was a good Y.A. novel; it wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful either. If you’re looking for a quick read with some good characters and a fairly interesting storyline, then Elixir’s the novel for you.

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