Friday, 16 September 2016

Review: The Potion Diaries - Amy Alward

Written by: Amy Alward
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Format: Paperback
Pages: 353
Purchase from: Amazon  |  Book Depository

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. OOPS. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But ca Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? And just how close is she willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing enemy, in the meantime?

Just to add to the pressure, this quest is all over social media. And the world news. 
No big deal, then.

Now, I'm not going to lie, I brought this book on a bit of a whim, as a way to round things up on my Amazon order. It was a bit of a spur of the moment purchase as I hadn't really heard much about it and was really a book that wouldn't be on my radar. Yet when I read the synopsis, I was immediately intrigued on how the author would meld the world into being both modern and fantasy, because in my mind they don't really mix. 
"There's no mistaking what kind of potion I need. Caffeine - for alertness and rejuvenation"
The Potion Diaries follows Samantha as she is drawn into a highly followed quest, in the hopes of saving her family's reputation and a princess from slowly going crazy from heart crushing love. If I go for a fantasy book, I tend to want to delve into a world that is so far from my own that I get swept up within the madness and the story. However with this story, it rounds up all the magic and fantasy and throws it into a world set in modern times. So, in other words, its the complete opposite to the normal fantasy books I tend to go for, which is the main reason that had me adding this book to my cart. I wanted to see how the author would develop this world into the story and after finishing it, I can tell you that I was quite impressed by how it was achieved. The story flowed extremely nicely, it was like it was natural for you to have alchemists and magic welders within the age of smart phones and social media. The was no awkward pauses where you had to remember the rules of this world because everything was so simple and weirdly natural. Yet this did tend to lead me into a strange kinda slump where I wasn't as invested in the things unfolding as I would be if it was set in a completely different fantasy world. So I was almost toing and froing as to whether I actually enjoyed the story. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was making me feel so weirdly discontent with it. 
"There are some things that are just as strong - no - stronger than love potions you know. Like real feelings."
 At first, I thought maybe it was the actual narrative that I had a problem with, but with a little more exploring I realised it was actually the characters and that was due to the fact that I was finding it extremely hard to connect with them. I loved how the story was flowing and I really enjoyed the pacing of the story but when I tried to figure out what stood out with the characters, that's when my problems with the story started appearing. Now I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, because I did, I couldn't stop myself from turning the pages and that to me says that in some ways I was intrigued with how it would end. Nevertheless I still was having trouble from thoroughly delving into the world and immersing myself within the pages. Instead it was like I was just powering through it, finding it cute and kind of fun, but not really absorbing the story. So when I really got to thinking as to why, the characters were the only thing I could think of. Samantha was fun and sorta fierce but to me she was coming across as quite immature and easily lead. She wasn't putting off the heroine vibe, instead it was more like a follower than a leader. Her family, mainly her granddad, was a huge problem for me too. In fact when I narrowed down my favourite character it was Sam's best friend, as she was the most loyal and stronger character with the little she featured in the story. Overall, I didn't think the characters were developed strongly enough, they all felt a little rushed. 
"And love potions aren't even about love, are they? They're about the illusion of it: the fantasy. They're about the lust, the passion."
All in all, The Potion Diaries is a fun and cute little read, it has really nice rhythm and pacing throughout the entire story and the characters are nice enough. Just in my eyes a little immature and underdeveloped, which is where I the main problem I had showed itself. The character's development is one of things that I love about a story, if a story has a flawed plot but brilliant character development then I can't help but enjoy it. But when those two are switched I start to loose focus and just read it for the sake of reading it. Having said this, I did really enjoy this story and I think it was mainly due to the fact that it was a fun read that was pulling me out of my reading slump. I could fly through it because I was invested enough in the storyline. Overall it was the middle-grade genre of this book that had me both flipping easily through the pages, but also failing to get me gripped between the pages. 

The Potion Diaries (Potion, #1)