Monday, October 5, 2015

Madly by Amy Alward

Title: Madly (Potion #1)
Author: Amy Alward
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with 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—and 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 ZoroAser 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.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I haven’t really been reading much non-contemporary this year. But there have been a few non-contemporary books this year that have caught my attention. And then I find myself completely surprised by how into them I get. And that’s what happened with Amy Alward’s Madly.

Samantha Kemi wants to bring the Kemi name back to its former glory. Once upon a time, the Kemi family were the most respected alchemists in the kingdom. But the rise of synthetic potions, there isn’t much of a demand for traditional potions. But that was before the Princess of Nova accidentally postponed herself with a love potion. Now, all of the best alchemists in Nova are called on a hunt to find a cure. And Sam is determined to win and save her family’s reputation. But that’s easier said than done when she has to compete with alchemists who have more power and more money than her. And then there’s Zain Aster, her enemy. Who also happens to be the boy she can’t get out of her head. Sam only has to much time to find a cure and the clock is ticking as the whole world looks on.

Remember a few years ago, when so many of the books being published in YA involved some sort of paranormal or fantastic element? I kind of miss those days. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my contemporary books and I will forever love them, but every so often I miss those paranormal books. So despite reading almost exclusively contemporary books in the last year or so, I still pick up the odd paranormal or fantasy book. The most recent of those being Amy Alward’s Madly. And guys, this book was awesome. I figured I would enjoy it, but I didn’t think I would get as into it as I did. Once the story really got going, I had trouble putting the book down. I got so caught up in the search for the cure, and the crazy adventures Sam was going on. Once the action got going, it didn’t let up. Sam was constantly getting dragged from one place to the next, putting her life in danger trying to save the princess and her family’s reputation. And I loved the different relationships that were present in the story. I loved seeing the family dynamics, and the friendships and the subtle romance that was present throughout. It drew me into the story that much more.

Sam was a total badass. This girl wasn’t afraid of anything. Or at least that’s what it felt like when I was reading. She was determined to win the Hunt and repair her family’s reputation. But she wasn’t as fearless as everyone thought she was. And seeing all those different aspects of Sam’s personality and character is what made me love her as much as I did. I loved how much she cared about her family, how participating in the Hunt wasn’t just about her making a name for herself but also about putting her family back on the map. It was always in the back of her mind what her parents or her grandfather would think about what she was doing. Sam was just a fantastic, layered character. And I loved her. And I loved all the other side characters in this story. Seeing Princess Evelyn fall in love with her own reflection was at times very amusing. The friendship between Sam and the Patel siblings made me smile and all the Kemi family moments warmed my heart. And as much as I typically love my romance, I loved how here, the romance between Sam and Zain wasn’t the focus of the story. It’s something that was there the whole way through, but it was understated and I hope I get to see some more of it in the future.

I was completely taken by surprise by how much I loved Amy Alward’s Madly. It’s not a book I would pick up on my own, but having now read it I’m so happy that I decided to read it. If you’re looking for a book filled with fantastic elements and action, this is it.

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