Amy Alward – The Potion Diaries

Wiebe is back with another review.

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 traveling 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 have fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can 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.

Reading the text on the back cover of The Potion Diaries, Amy Alward sets herself a lot of goals in this book. A quest, a love story, a family mystery and social media, set in a yet to be explained fantasy world. All that in a fast paced YA-ish novel of 350 pages. Looking back on the novel, I think it was a bit too much. I could shoot holes in the plot, say why I find the world is not fleshed out enough and much more. It is in my opinion a gross underestimation of the readers’ age makes that it makes you think you can get away with that. But it is YA, so long as it invokes stormy emotions and makes me feel 16 again, I will go along with it. 

I think most of my problems with this novel are that it does not do anything for me. I do not feel the danger and excitement of the situation, the emotions of the characters or the crushing pressure of the social media. I have been spoiled as a child in the Netherlands with novels intended for the same age group as this one, with so much more to offer. As much as I hate Dutch adult literature, those novels gave me my passion for reading. This novel seems to shy away from hitting any controversial or heavy subject and I think it is an underestimation of the intended audience’s ability to deal with that. It feels thoroughly written to be rated as PG.

Although I read through the whole thing in two days, looking back upon it, nothing really stands out to me as memorable.

I seem to be a bit down on The Potion Diaries. Discussing it with my wife she pointed out that I am not of the right age nor of the right gender (although that last one should not matter in my opinion) for this book and somewhat of a social media luddite. Comparing it to other YA works that I do like, she pointed out that this is a completely different type of book. Now the sad conclusion is that I have either become to old and jaded to resonate with this kind of novel or the book is as bland as I seem to think it is.  I’ll go with “this is not my cup of tea”.