The name Hilary Duff is familiar to most people as one of the many stars of Disney during the early 2000s. I spent a good part of my early teenage years as a fan of Hilary Duff’s music and movies, owning two of her CDs, two of her movies and going to a concert of hers when I was 12. Fast forward to the present, and Hilary is now in her mid-twenties with a son. It’s refreshing to see someone who grew up in the spotlight ended up strait-laced and successful.

Elixir is the first of a book in a trilogy that Duff co-wrote with Elise Allen. Although some people might be a bit wary of a book written by an actress, Elixir turned out to be a solid novel with a real plot, developed characters and elements that left me questioning all the way through.

The plot concerns seventeen-year-old Clea Raymond. Having grown up in the spotlight as the daughter of wealthy leaders, she focuses on finding clues to her dad’s disappearance, one of them being the presence of a young man in many of her photographs. With the help of her best friends Ben and Rayna, she tracks down the man and unravels the mystery behind his existence and their connection.

The center of the conflict is the legendary elixir, a potion that supposedly gives the user immortal life. The fantasy aspects serves as a nice departure from the cliché plots of most teenage novels which usually involve the protagonist embarking on some kind of a journey of self-discovery or a similar situation. (I admit, I do read those types of novels.) Nevertheless, the unexpected elements made me curious about what would happen next.

The character of Clea was relatable in certain ways. Her hobby of photojournalism reminded me of my own interest of photography, having owned many cameras and taken many pictures in my lifetime. She also travels several times throughout the book, one of the destinations being Paris. Having been to Paris on a trip while studying abroad in college, it made me nostalgic of the memories of my trip. While I don’t have the means to take sporadic trips as she does, it was nice to read about the topic of travelling and where it can take you.

The only part about the book I would change involved the ending. The story ends on a cliffhanger, giving leeway for the next book, but I felt like it was rushed in some ways. The entire climax only occurred in about twenty pages or so, a fraction of the 327 total pages.

Elixir is the first in a series, followed by the second and third book Devoted and True, respectively. I look forward to reading them and continuing the story of Clea and seeing what happens next.

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