Elixir by Hilary Duff
Published in 2010 by Simon & Schuster BFYR
I’ve been feeling the need for more Hilary Duff in my life lately. What with the tenth anniversary of A Cinderella Story this past July 16 and the release of her new single, “Chasing the Sun,” I’m ready to see the Duff make a comeback (please let her new tv show be good!). With that being said, I pulled from my to-be-read stack Elixir, a YA novel by none other than Hilary Duff! (insert squeal) Going into this book, my thoughts were: did this book get published because it’s actually good, or did it get published because of who wrote it?
Here’s what I found out: there’s a reason I grabbed this book from the $3.97 clearance bin. Sorry, Duff.
The first half of this book is AMAZING. I sat down to read, and an hour later, I was 100+ pages in. I was hooked. Another 100 pages in, I was still hooked. But when I
got to the second half…well, let me back up and tell you about it.
Seventeen-year-old Clea Raymond (who I couldn’t help but envision as seventeen-year-old Duff) is the daughter of a senator—her mom—and a heart surgeon philanthropist—her dad, who went missing on his last trip to Brazil and has since been declared dead. Clea, however, cannot come to grips with her father’s “death,” despite extensive therapy. When the opportunity arises for Clea to go to Brazil, she jumps at it, hoping that she will discover something that will explain her father’s disappearance. (Sounds good, right?) She loves photography and starts noticing an unknown man in photos she’s recently taken. A stalker? He starts to make appearances in her dreams, too, and each time, Clea is a different woman from a different time period, all women who loved this mysterious man named Sage (really?), all women who died. (I know, still sounds good!) When Clea tells her friend, Ben, about Sage being in the photos, Ben reveals a secret of her father’s: Sage has been in every photo of Clea and that Clea has taken since she was born. (Ah, intense!) And it all has something to do with the Elixir of Life (thus, the title).
Now. It. All. Goes. Down. Hill. (**Spoilers ahead**). Clea goes to Brazil, just happens across Sage, decides after about five minutes that he isn’t a threat after all, and falls in love. A day later, what does Clea do…with Sage…in her best friend’s car? You guessed it. Then, there’s this journey to Japan to find a creepy old lady in the basement of a Japanese mall, which leads to the revelation that Sage destroyed the Elixir of Life 500 years ago and didn’t bother to mention that before flying halfway around the world. Oh, and Clea IS the women she dreamed about (surprise reincarnation, very Fallen-like), the women who all died (still sounds like Fallen), and she will die next if Sage doesn’t kill himself to end the cycle, which he is about to do when he gets kidnapped. And then the book ends. (I’m sorry, what?) Yes, Sage gets kidnapped, and Clea gets on a plane to go home. No resolution, no trying to save him, no nothing. Is Clea’s father is still alive? Don’t know. She has what she thinks is a premonition of him still being alive, but we have no clue because the book ends without mentioning him again. I imagine that this is how Hazel felt after reading that book that just ends mid-sentence in The Fault in Our Stars. (I get it now, Hazel!) I don’t have any qualms about giving away the ending because after this review, I hope you’re not going to waste your time, but let me just say that I have never been more disappointed in a book ending. (I’m talking worse than Mockingjay and Allegiant, folks.) How can a book that starts off so good end so badly??
Besides this non-ending ending, there were other issues that I had with this book. 1. Clea is only seventeen, but her mom lets her jet around the world by herself. (And the parent of the year award goes to…) 2. People all around the world recognize Clea because her mom is a senator. (I’m sorry, but I don’t think that I’d recognize Obama’s kids, much less some senator’s.) 3. Clea, under a pseudonym, is a famous photographer (The reason she’s able to go to Brazil is because it’s an “assignment.”) 4. The scenes where Clea is the women from different eras don’t even attempt to use historically accurate language. (I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t have used the phrases “deal with it,” “ex-girlfriend,” “a big deal,” and “are you kidding” in RENAISSANCE Italy.) 5. I can’t believe how many times “I” was used instead of “me” and vice versa. (Simon & Schuster, hire me to be an editor!)
Obviously (said like Snape), this novel is a big disappointment. I wouldn’t recommend Elixir unless you stop reading in the middle. There is language, not an extensive amount, but some. The biggest turn off, though, is the sex in the car. At least it isn’t described. If you still want to read it, I would recommend 16+ (because I wouldn’t let my fifteen-year-old cousin—who loves the Duff—read this and be so disappointed). But I still love the Duff!