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Elixir by Hillary Duff & Elise Allen

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Genre: YA, Paranormal Fantasy, Romance
Paranormal Element: Eternal Life
Order Online: |
Stalk the Authors: Hillary Duff | Elise Allen
Review of the audio book from, reader: Julia Whelan

This is one of those titles that I was ambivalent upon completion but then on further contemplation became completely flabbergasted that I actually completed it.  Oh wait, yes, now I know why it wasn't a DNF, because this was an audio book - and I listened to it while I was at work. This novel had great potential it really did and I actually went in to it with an open mind. On first thought I believed this to be just a churned out celebrity endorsed fluff piece. Duff had a bright idea while sipping her latte on set - and she called someone that called someone else and then they wrote a book based on six words "Twilight but no vampires or werewolves." I really did push those thoughts aside. I watched the trailer. I tweeted about it and was reassured by a few peeps that they heard it was good, they heard Duff actually was a creative force behind the novel. I should have stuck to my guns. Really. This little literary piece of fluff was about as intellectually stimulating as Jersey Shore with Lindsey Lohan making a guest appearance. The only thing semi-decent about it was the writing style. Allen, because I'm pretty sure she is who crafted the words behind this baby, did a good job of staying in tone and the prose was typical young adult. The concept even had some merit...too bad the implementation was not very well done.

Elixir is the story of a jet-setting teen by the name of Clea Raymond. Traveling the globe with her best friend Rayna she has accomplished more in her 17 years than most 80 year olds have dreamed of. She parties in Paris, jets back to the US which is her home and then sets off for a photo gig in Rio for Carnivale. But, all the while she is plagued by the death of her father, whom went missing on a humanitarian mission in Brazil. Recent events have brought about a resurgence of curiosity in his disappearance and leads her to searching his office...and finding images of one man, a man that seems to always be there, in her pictures and in her father's pictures, at every step of her life. Something that can't be explained and should scare her, but for some reason she is strangely drawn to the stranger.

Here is the critique. Where do I start? Let's start with the characters:
The characters were very one dimensional. They elicited no emotional reaction from me. I could careless about any of them. Clea, the main character was vapid, yet too perfect to be believable. Rayna, the ditzy best friend was overdone and her actions were annoying and almost offensive. The first part of the love triangle, Ben, was overpowering, overprotective and rather spineless. The second part, the mysterious paranormal, Sage, was so mysterious that you barely even connected with him at all.

Then the plot. It had holes galore. First we are searching for clues for the father's death. Then we find out the father might be alive. But, with that discovery we find out about our mysterious soul mate/serial killer/incubus guy. Well, with his introduction that search for daddy gets totally forgotten and now it is something new entirely. Let's forget dad and search for the vials. Then in between searching lets have odd moments of cinnamon rolls and drawn out moments in wonder of a black AMEX. Odd. Then there is the whole Elixir, Sage and these two mysterious groups that are chasing after them. These evil men, bred to what? Bred to just hunt down Sage? Bred to find the vials? There is no explanation, just these lethal groups of comic bad guys. This book left me with so many questions that weren't explained, or explained poorly. They mention over and over again that Clea is home schooled. But who home schooled her? And when? And what was the purpose of the Hungarian maid? That was just bizarre with all the spitting. Then the major, to top it off ending. It was horrible. Horrible. I think it was meant to elicit an emotional response...but by then I was so just indifferent that I could care less. It shouldn't be this way with a book. The worst part about it was that it was supposed to be this big climax and it just was a total dud. It reeks of sequel... egad brain, please just say no.

Now, on to the part where I say i wouldn't let my teenage daughter read this if it was the last book on the planet. This book is full of bad behavior, lack of parenting and just unrealistic teen life. The book starts with Rayna and Clea partying in an exclusive Paris nightclub. Alone in Paris! In a bar! And Rayna goes home with a guy and leaves Clea by herself in said club. These are two seventeen year old, high school seniors! This is just the start. Then these kids traipse all over the globe from Rio to Japan. There are sex scenes in the front seats of cars, a mother that just isn't there at all, and relationship with much older men. Not for tween and younger teen consumption, even though it is recommended for 9 - 12 grade.

Next part, we will cover the cliches. The tired Love Triangle. The self-sacrificing immortal male. The bland, anything-for-love heroine. Then the ever popular mysterious paranormal themes. Guess want mysterious boy is? Oh is he an incubus, or maybe a ghost, or maybe a serial killer? Very original {insert sarcasm font}.

I really hate saying this, but I do feel that Hillary Duff's agent or manager or something came up with this brilliant idea to try to recreate the Twilight / Harry Potter phenom. They brainstormed for a few hours on what would make a great Young Adult novel that could be made into a movie, churn out tons of merch like Clea Barbie Dolls and Sage Action Figures, they wrote a quick outline, had their people find a writer, and voila': Elixir. Allen came up with a book, they edited the crap out of it, like they would a script and the final product turned out to be this. In the great divide that is good literature, mediocre literature and really bad literature, I don't like saying this about a book, but this one is the last category. Stick to acting, Hillary Duff, because writing just ain't your thing. That is if you penned a word of this novel.

Older teens, there is sex, partying and no parental guidance. 


Akoss (kaipee) said...

Thank You for this review. I actually admire you for reading it and I can't believe they are marketing this to 9-12 year olds. :(

ParaJunkee said...

@Akoss - I think that is the most vexing part of the whole situation. I just thought throughout the whole book - "Who's reality is this? Who can relate to this type of lifestyle?"

Maybe Hillary Duff parties in Paris and goes home with strangers, loses her virginity in a car etc. etc., but really this was spun in a positive light, not bad behavior, which is the worst part. And really, I'm not some puritan conservative... I know teens are going to have sex, try alcohol, experiment and such, I did it myself. Just don't put a glossy spin on it.

Kristin said...

yeahhhhh, I had a feeling this one wasn't going to be all that good. Probably not fair, but seeing that Hillary Duff was the writer, it made me want to run the other way...

Christine said...

My god, I didn´t even know it was THE Hillary Duff. It´s always a disappointment when a book turns out to be so much less than expected.
But good to know that I´m not the only one who begins to tire of love triangles!

D.L. said...

Thanks for reading it. I wasn't going to but I was curious about it. I keep wondering what's up with the sudden surge of celebrities writing fiction (rather than memiors).

ParaJunkee said...

@Kristin - I have a feeling she didn't actually write it. More like creative direction. Must be nice right?

@Christine, I had that same reaction. I just thought it was someone that happened to share a name, until I saw the trailer. Love triangles if done right work. They add a bit of anxiety and keep a book moving, I understand their usage. But this one was done poorly.

@DL - Sudden urge. Probably because of the fortune that some of the fiction writers are making and the celebrity of them. Stephanie Meyer has launched careers with her books and movies. That kind of power draws people and they want a dynasty - and it all starts with a book.

Missie said...

Yikes! What a white hot mess! As if there aren't enough YA novels with absentee parents, we have to get this from a celeb.

No bueno. I think if Duff was truly interested in becoming an author, she should have published under a pseudo name.

Reverie said...

MAN! now I feel bad the trailer made you read book you didn't enjoy.
As a friend said some books are good to learn what not to write.

Anonymous said...

"This little literary piece of fluff was about as intellectually stimulating as Jersey Shore with Lindsey Lohan making a guest appearance"....

Where do you come up with these lines Rach?
I never planned on reading Duffs novel, after that review it makes me want to read it so I can do a bad review..JUST KIDDING!!!!!

ParaJunkee said...

@Missie - Hot mess exactly. I completely agree. Pseudonyms are fun!

@Reverie - Yes, this one can be a good example of that.

@Tina - I almost 86d that line. I thought it was too much. Glad I kept it now! Sometimes bad hype can have the reverse effect. Like a really bad tv commercial. I'm sure even with the bad reviews some people will love this book.

MaryRedingWrites said...

I LOVE this review! I refused to read Elixer and when I heard this book had made the NYTBSL I pitched a rather childish fit... glad to hear someone else found it just as ridiculous.

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

Eek. Definitely won't be reading this one. I'm neutral on Hilary Duff as an actress...don't like her or dislike her, but I wasn't really expecting much from her as an author. I think my aunt was planning on getting this for her thirteen year-old though. Time to make a phone call...

Lily Child said...

I've read mixed reviews of Elixir, but just couldn't make myself read it. After reading this review, I'm glad that I stuck with my initial reaction. Thanks for your honest review! :)

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