Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: Madly by Amy Award

Madly by Amy Alward
Series: Potion #1
Genre: Fantasy
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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 can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. 

No big deal, then.

And staring into the cool blue eyes reflected in the silver base at the bottom of her goblet, she fell madly, deeply, and irrevocably in love.

I fancy that this book is what would happen if you take any of the popular poison-maker YA fantasy books, cross that with some reality show like The Amazing Race and stir well. Add a dash of romance and a pinch of friendship and season with a supportive family. Serve warm.

Okay, so my simile got a little away from itself, but that's how I feel towards this book. It's fun and odd and pretty much exactly what I was expecting it to be.

The story follows Sam, our young potion maker - think more apothecary or herbalist and less alchemist. Most of the story is told from her perspective. (First person present tense interspersed with a few chapters of third person past tense. Which gave me a kneejerk reaction, but wasn't as awful as I expected. Would have liked it more if it had been consistent.)

As it was, I'm not sure if it was the POV shifts, but I never fully connected with Sam. I like her. She's got a long list of good traits and a healthy dose of flaws. But I never felt like rooting for her.

Same with the other characters. I like them all. They are all great and inoffensive and there are strong family ties, there are strong friendships and there are strong women. (And the book has a pretty strong 'pro-women/feminist' vibe going for it.) But...I never once felt breathless wondering what was going to happen next, if they were going to get out of this mess or die. I never clicked emotionally with any of the people.

Mentally, you bet! I was fully engaged mentally while reading this story, but not at all emotionally.

Ordinaries dominate any job that requires interaction with technology - pilots and computer engineers are, for the most part, magicless.

One thing that I do love, love, love about this story is the blend of technology and magic. This is a fantasy world, make no mistake about that. But they have cellphones, satellite TV, automobiles that run on gas, helicopters. All mixed with royalty and that special blend of magic.

I love this! I know something like this isn't going to be for everyone, but I love when a typical fantasy setting is turned on it's ear. I love stories where science and magic have to struggle against each other. And this book shows at least a little of that, especially with the 'pharmacies' that have started making lab created alternatives to the fresh herbs and plants that the poitioners have used for decades. (And I love the way that parallels the state of this world.)

This book has also made me want to be an apothecary even more than I did before reading it!