Oh, Elixir. What a twisted path we've taken to each ohter. See, the thing is, I noticed Elixir when it first came out because it was seemingly everywhere in the bookstores I was going to. But I didn't read it. (Why? Two reasons: it was written by Hilary Duff, and while The Lizzie McGuire movie is the pinnacle of all things amazing, I am skeptical of celebrities' writing abilities, and because the font was too big. Yes, I did in fact judge books by how large they were printed, in some though that the larger the font, the poorer the quality. I still think there is something to this idea.) But it came to mind when I needed a book to fulfill the "written by a celebrity" category of my reading challenge, so off to the library I went.
It was better than I thought, but not great.
Here's the thing. I think this is a premise that would make an awesome late teen/young adult TV show. It has all the markings of a great one for these times: a pretty girl with a penchant for photography, a love triangle with two attractive guys, a hint of the supernatural, and various times and places that would make sets and costuming a clear standout. And for a book in the same vein, it wasn't horrible. In fact, I liked it quite a bit until about 2/3 of the way through. The plot follows Clea, who, after looking at pictures taken on vacation with her best friend, finds that the same guy is lurking in the background in all of them, including in places there's no way he actually could have been--like hundreds of feet up in midair. And then she starts having dreams about him, in four distinctly separate times and places, with her taking on the persona of four different young women. And then, when she tells her friend Ben about them, he reveals to her that she's not the first person to see this guy in photos. Clea's father saw him in photos of and by her, too, all through her life up until he vanished a year before while on a trip to Brazil. Wanting answers about both the guy in the pictures and her father's disappearance, Clea accepts a photojournalism assignment to cover the Samba Parade at Carnival and plans to stop by the last place her father was seen on the way. And then, while she's there, she and Ben run into the guy from the photos, and everything gets weird very fast.
Here's the thing... Once Clea and Ben run into Sage, all logic goes out the door and the pace of the story dissolves into complete goop. I think it was actually pretty well-structured leading up to this point, and even for a bit afterwards I thought it was going to go well. But then Clea decides to dive head-first into a relationship with a guy that she thinks might have killed her in past lives and might be planning to do so again because her other best friend, Rayna, tells her to listen to her heart. Oh, suddenly instead of just looking for answers, Clea & Co. are being chased by a bunch of baddies who have no problems shooting up malls in Tokyo to get at them. (This is another scene that was tailor-made for TV but did not work so great on paper.) Very little is found out about Clea's dad, except that he might actually still be alive, but that didn't really bother me, because that's something that's clearly going to come out more in the other books in the series. But the end of the book... Ugh. Clea is all blame-y on Ben for something that was really her fault, and that was so against the logical person she'd been for most of the book that it annoyed me even more than it would have if she'd been a normal brainless YA heroine. That and a few more minor things (Clea's dad was declared dead after four months? What? It's typically seven years for someone to be declared dead without a body, people...) really grated one me, even though I could see how awesome this really could have been.
Overall, I think this is a book that was written with the screen, rather the page, in mind--not surprising, considering Duff's background. And I think it would have done well on the small screen. But as a book, the pacing just doesn't feel right, and the way that Clea as a character kind of falls apart at the end, putting a guy she's just met before everyone else, including friends and family she's had for, uhm, ever, really knocked it down for me.
2 stars out of 5.