Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Youth Springs Eternal


Written by: Hilary Duff with contribution from Elise Allen

Released: October 12, 2010 by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Summary: As the daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington D.C. politician, Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. And though she dreads the paparazzi who track her every move, she herself is 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, eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful young man begin to appear in Clea’s photos—a man she has never seen in her life.

When Clea suddenly encounters this man in person she is stunned—and feels an immediate and powerful connection. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance and discover the centuries-old truth behind their intense bond.

Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fate, together they race against time to unravel their past in order to save their future—and their lives.

I can’t help but wonder just how much of this Hilary Duff actually wrote. I know that everyone has their own speculations and I myself can’t help but question where the need to write YA came from when she already has had her clothing line, perfume, television show, movies, singing career... does there need to be another notch in her proverbial belt?

But I digress, reviewing a book isn’t supposed to be about the author (or potential lack thereof), so from here on out I’m focusing on the novel.

Basically this book is a Twilight love triangle with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie, not television series) sense of soul rebirth and something else which I had just thought of and then promptly forgot while trying to remember it. In any case, it wasn’t terribly original, but still it captured my attention long enough to really make me want to read the next book.

Clea (how the hell is that supposed to be pronounced properly?) is a character who I found completely unrealistic and slightly vapid. I find it hard to believe that she didn’t realize that Ben was in love with her way before the events of the book... though that could be attributed to extreme denial. So, that aside, I just didn’t connect with her outside of the first chapter where she was all cynical. Actually, it was Clea’s personality in the first few chapters that made me want to read on and find out what was going on. I mean, she has a complete panic attack within the first page and I really wanted to find out what brought it on. But after you’re introduced to the sub-plot of her missing-considered-dead father and the emotional turmoil that that brought on, she goes downhill really fast and never recovers.

Which brings me to another thing. The first quarter of the book is focused on finding out what happened to Clea’s father but as the book goes on that gets shoved to the wayside and at the end it’s still a completely unanswered question with even more mystery surrounding it. While I realize that it was needed in order to get from point A to point Q, there were so many points missing that had I of not been concentrating I would have wondered if someone had swapped the book in my hands without my knowing.

Clea’s love interests Ben and Sage pose as interesting characters in this love quandary. Very much Jacob and Edward (respectively) I found myself rooting for Ben more than Sage. In fact, I found Sage to be a brooding jerk especially near the end of the novel and Clea a very clinging Bella. But their love triangle had a better point in this than the similar one in Twilight, so I’ll let it slide.

All this being said, I enjoyed reading this novel and the last quarter had my eyes glued to the pages in the hopes that I would find out what happened next. It also contained more knowledge on the past lives of Clea, which I thought were incredibly interesting to read. I wish that there had been more of that in the book than there was. Hell, I wish that the book had just been longer so that it was done and I knew the answers to all the questions. Without a set date other than 2011 for the sequel I have a feeling that it’s going to be a rather long wait.

And so this book ends up being rated a 6/10 for me. It would have been a bit lower but the suspense killed me and aided the book.

On a side note, here’s one of the summaries that’s on Goodreads. It must have been the first and from an incredibly rough draft because aside from the large points it is completely different from what the actual summary is.

Summary: Clea Raymond lives an extraordinary life. The daughter of renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC figure, she has been in the spotlight her entire life. Followed by the paparazzi, she resents the attention that is lavished on her for her looks alone because she has so much more to offer.

Clea Raymond has a unique gift. A proficient photographer, in all her pictures, there is little something extra, and it's not just a result of her talented eye. There is always an extra photo that she didn't take. And, as she discovered at a young age, those photos always lead to a place where some tragedy is about to occur that Clea can prevent.

Two years ago, her father disappeared while on a humanitarian mission and is presumed dead, but that doesn't stop Clea and her mother from continuing to do good throughout the world. On one such trip to Columbia, she meets Race, the guide for the trip. She feels a connection to him but cannot explain why. Was it something in their past or possibly in their past lives? Whatever has brought them together is threatening to tear them apart forever. As the mystery of her father's disappearance unravels, Clea discover that she has powers that are bigger than anything she could have anticipated.

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