Monday, 22 November 2010
Review: Elixir by Hilary Duff
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: October 16th, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-
Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, Clea has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But following Clea's father's disappearance while on a humanitarian mission, Clea's photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man - a man she has never seen before. When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him...
Hilary Duff has written a book. Are you horrified? Worried about the state of publishing? Well don't be, 'cause it's actually pretty good. In fact, it's so good that I sat in bed for 4 hours and read it in one sitting, and if I had the next book, I would be reading it right now!
When I first heard about Elixir, I honestly had little to zero interest in it. I saw Hilary Duff's name on the (very pretty) cover, and I immediately dismissed it as a ghostwritten celebrity money-maker designed to do nothing but further her career. I have since been proved so wrong, and my initial thoughts on the book completely flipped around as soon as I started reading. I was hooked from the start, and soon all traces of Hilary Duff's name were removed from my train of thought. I don't care who wrote Elixir, all I care about is that it kept me interested for its entire 300+ page count, and has left me excited for book 2. That's what a book should do, right?
I recently read The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller, which I would now put into the same category as Elixir. Without giving anything away, both centre on past lives and reincarnation, which to me at least is a new direction for paranormal YA. I haven't seen a lot of it around, but I know I want more. It's fascinating stuff, and makes me think about all sorts of philosophical life questions and theories. So, if you're a fan of The Eternal Ones, give Elixir a go. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find on the pages.
Talking of being surprised, I really was. Right from the start, Clea's story drew me in, with all the talk of mysterious men, missing fathers and old memories intriguing me to no end. The addition of Clea's realistic friends, Rayna and Ben, made things more believable, and provided a more mundane background before Sage arrived to stir things up. He and Clea came alive on the page, and I felt every second of their drawn-out tension. I was definitely Team Clage for the rest of the novel, with even the cliffhanger ending failing to sway my allegiance.
As good as Elixir is, of course it isn't perfect. It suffers from easy conflict resolutions and convenient escapes, but its contemporary teen talk and intricate plot more than make up for that. I overlooked what fleetingly bothered me, instead focusing on the mystery unfolding, along with the brilliant characters and unexpected above-average writing. I'm not sure how much of Elixir Hilary Duff actually wrote, as it says 'with Elise Allen' on the title page, though I'd guess it was a fair amount. However much she penned herself, it really doesn't matter - what matters is that she smashed all my preconceptions into tiny little pieces, and showed me that you just can't judge a name, no matter how well known or revered it is.
I may be in the minority here, but I honestly did love Elixir. As a reader, reviewer and blogger, I look for a good story with engaging protagonists and memorable dialogue, and that's exactly what I got. That's really all I can ask for, regardless of which celebrity name is attached to the cover. So, all I would say is: give this book a chance. You might love it, you might not, but at least you'll have given it a well-deserved chance.