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Before I proceed with this review, I must first say that I really don’t like reading stories written in the present tense. Some people have no problem with them, but some people do. I am in the latter camp. This was a huge factor in my decision not to finish reading the book.

The part of the book that I did read, however, did show potential, but it was not written or edited very well. The writer needs to work on his craft. There was not enough detail, as well as some repetition and insufficient description. I also wonder if the manuscript was even edited before being published; there were major punctuation errors throughout the chapters as well as a few writing mistakes. The story itself is interesting and while this kind of story has already been done to death, the author’s own version could do well if only it had been edited better.

The main character, Sean, is hard to like. He is arrogant, disrespectful and self-centered. The scene with the bird doesn’t even redeem him in my eyes. He’s pushy with his elders and throws a tantrum after the government uses “his” formula to stop a crime. (FYI: Anything you give to the government is no longer yours! We’re all pawns, especially the geniuses.) Granted, he’s only 14, but everybody else allowing the little brat to push them around and get his way did not make for a story I wanted to keep reading. It doesn’t help that Sean does not improve after he is older and after he was given a new chance at life. The other characters did not seem very well fleshed out. It was like the author focused all of his energy on creating Sean and not so much with the other characters. They’re all like cardboard cutouts.

The main reason why I stopped reading this novel, though, is because all the mistakes got to be too much for me. I can overlook the present tense writing, but not a whole host of punctuation and writing mistakes. If the novel is given another round of edits and perhaps some tightening of the writing, it could fare better for this reviewer.

Book Blurb for Elixir

Meet 14-year-old Sean Malone. He has an IQ above 200, a full-ride scholarship to one of the country’s top universities, and more than one million dollars from his winning streak on Jeopardy. However, Sean wishes he could just be normal. But his life is anything but normal. The US government manipulates him, using him as a codebreaker in pursuit of a drug lord and killing innocent people along the way. For reasons related to his personal security, Sean finds himself in Rome, building a new life under a new name, abandoning academics, and hiding his genius from everyone. When he’s 18 he falls in love. The thrills begin again when he learns that his girlfriend is critically ill and it’s up to him to use his intellect to find a cure, a battle pitting him against a multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company and the demons of his past.

Elixir is a story about identity, secrets, and above all, love.

Night Owl Reviews Feb, 2015 2.50