Saturday, September 24, 2011

Elixir (Elixir, #1) by Hilary Duff, Book Review

Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she 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 after Clea’s father disappears 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. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.

Title: Elixir
Author: Hilary Duff, Elise Allen (Contributor)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 327
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5

*I received a review copy of Elixir by Hilary Duff from the publisher, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, in exchange for a 100% honest book review.

Elixir tells the story of Clea Raymond, a very privileged girl--daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent politician. The book opens with Clea in Paris, France with her best friend, Rayna. Clea and Rayna are in Paris, attempting to clear Clea's worried and frazzled mind shortly after the strange and bizarre disappearance of Clea's eccentric father. Clea and Rayna are at a Paris nightclub when the two girls meet up with two foreign men and Rayna decides to spend the night with her gentleman caller while Clea turns down her date and returns to her hotel room where she debriefs from a busy, exciting night that she would've loved if her conscience wasn't filled with worry for her missing father. The only way Clea can forget momentarily about her father and all of the horrors he may've faced on his humanitarian mission to Brazil, the site of his disappearance, is photography, so Clea retrieves her camera and takes pictures of the Paris skyline until dawn.

Frozen and chilled to the bone, Clea--tired and stressed, crashes into bed and sleeps the day away. Clea awakens to a grim announcement on the news: the apartment that Rayna stayed overnight caught on fire and was currently burning to the ground. After countless attempts to call Rayna on her cell phone, Clea rushes to the apartment address where she witnesses the apartment transform into a blazing inferno. When Clea finds out that Rayna and her hook-up had gone out for coffee earlier that morning, Clea's photojournalist mind tells her to take a few photos of the burning apartment building for the magazine in which she is employed. After taking some pictures and making sure that Rayna was in perfect health, the two girls returned to their homes in Connecticut.

Up in her grand bedroom in her massive mansion, Clea uploads all of the photos from her European getaway onto her computer and begins to sort through them--that's when something interesting catches her eye. Clea notices a black mark in every single one of her pictures, so when she sees a definite shape in the photo of the burning apartment building, Clea zooms in to the maximum size and can make out the shape of a man--a beautiful, tortured man--standing beside a fire truck wearing jeans, a gray T-shirt, and a black leather jacket. After closer inspection, Clea realizes that all of her photos have traces of this man.

Clea proceeds to take a photo of her bedroom, and when she uploads the picture onto her computer, she sees the man from all of her previous photos standing inside of her closet. Weirded out, Clea inspects her closet and finds nothing there but designer clothes, fancy purses, and expensive shoes. After hours upon hours of investigating, Clea can't help but pass out into bed...with the lights on.

Clea wakes up the next morning and shares her findings with her best (guy) friend, Ben, whom she suddenly begins to find very handsome and cute. Shrugging aside her feelings for Ben, Clea focuses on the photographic evidence of this man and Ben begins to act very weird and urges Clea to show him the photos. Clea obeys, and Ben wants to know more and takes Clea down to her father's office/studio where they word furiously to uncover something--anything--that could help them make sense of this phantom in the pictures. Clea and Ben mull over many theories, including vampire, (guardian) angel, demon, succubus, etc.

Eventually, Ben reveals to Clea that her father hired Ben to be Clea's assistant not because of his knowledge of the mundane, but for the exact opposite. Clea's father may have been a surgeon, but he was in love with mythology and literature and knew of the man in the photographs ever since Clea was a little girl and took a picture with her very first camera, exposing a dark image hiding in the picture but with the same beautiful, tortured facial expression.

After many revelations and secrets come to light, Clea and Ben jet-set across the globe, traveling from Connecticut to Brazil to Tokyo and more in a frantic search of Clea's father and the secret man in the photograph. And when Clea and Ben find out who this man really is, Clea knows her life will never be the same....

My thoughts on this book that it was a pretty good book. It is the first in a series of young-adult novels written by Hilary Duff with contributions made by Elise Allen (author of Poppulazzi.) When I found out that Hilary Duff had written a book, I was really excited because I love Hilary Duff as an actress and a singer, and I thought it'd be neat to see her take on the roll as an author. You may think that Hilary Duff wouldn't be a very good writer, based off of the stereotype of a blonde pop star.

When you read this book, forget those stereotypes and read Elixir as if it was written by a normal writer. I thought that the concept of this book was amazing, and it slightly reminded me of Fallen by Lauren Kate, minus the fallen angels/demons. Elixir is basically about soul mates and star crossed lovers who are reincarnated over and over again, lifetime after lifetime, each life and each love ending in tragedy, with Sage aka mystery man in the photographs, living an eternal life as an immortal, tortured by his haunting past and lured to live with the promise that he will one day be reunited with his one true love and soul mate.

I loved how mythology, soul mates, star crossed lovers, reincarnation/past lives, magic, action, adventure, and romance were all blended into this book to create a quick, easy read but leaving you wanting--needing--to know more about Clea and Sage, and their many lives and loves, all entwining to create a long, never-ending cycle.

I found the characters to be slightly disappointing. I thought that Clea could be whiny at times; Ben got on my nerves many times because of his know-it-all/big brother personality; Rayna was very repetitive and was very fake and plastic; and Sage, the male love interest, complained about many things and wasn't the type of hero that I love in novels.

I thought that Duff's writing style was fine, if not slightly shallow and care-free. I wished there was more depth to the storyline, but I felt that the plot and its contents were strong enough that it held its ground and manages to keep the book chugging along at a steady pace.

All things considered, and Elixir being a debut novel, I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars and suggest that if you like books with romance, action, and adventure then you should read this book. I suggest that you read the beginning, and if it suits you then get it but if you naturally assume that you won't enjoy it very much, then borrow it from a friend or check it out from the library.


  1. Great review, Casey!
    That's exactly how I feel about it too. The idea is fantastic and I love the idea of star crossed, reincarnated lovers; however like you said, I thought the characters were somewhat annoying but not so much to make me want to quit reading it.
    I can't wait to find out more about Clea and Sage's lives and how Clea and Ben intended on saving Sage. Hopefully the sequel will be better.

  2. Great review! I was kind of on the fence about this book, seen a lot of mixed reviews about it. I just might give it a go, but not too soon! I wonder if the series picks up after the first book, and will you be reviewing the rest? :)

  3. Thanks for the honest review. I bought this book for 2.99 before Borders demise. It is on my TBR shelf and will just have to wait till I get through some amazing books first(ie, Divergent, Wither, Mercy, Ruby Red...)

  4. Holly: Thanks for commenting! I did think the book was good, but the characters were slightly irritating. However, they weren't so bad that I ever felt like I couldn't continue with the book. I really hope the sequel, DEVOTED, picks up.

    Saribonita: Thanks! I have an ARC (advance reader/reviewer copy) of the sequel, DEVOTED, in my TBR (to be read) pile and I hope to read and review it, soon.

    Nikkihasabookshelf: Welcome, and thanks for commenting! I agree, you do have some amazing books on your hands. I'd suggest that you read ELIXIR if you want something very quick and easy to read. I really want to read DIVERGENT and WITHER.