Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK
Released: July 2nd 2015
My Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
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. (from Goodreads)
I really wanted to like The Potion Diaries, it sounded like it would be such a cute and fun read, but unfortunately it wasn’t for me (I adore the cover, though).
First of all, the characters. I generally write reviews by talking a bit about each main character, and then moving on to talk about the plot. But I have nothing to stay about these characters. They were so underdeveloped. Samantha was probably the most developed, as the central character, but still, I can’t really tell you too much about her. She knew a lot about potions, I guess? But I never really understood what was motivating her - and some of the things she did [spoiler, highlight to read](like when Emilia had the gun - what did Sam hope to achieve in that scene?!)[end of spoiler] were just odd. The romance with Zain was sort of half-assed as well. There was no chemistry there, we knew next to nothing about Zain really, and I didn’t understand why they even started liking each other. It was cute at times, but eh. Plus I am really, really, REALLY not fond of when kisses are described as “the kiss went deeper” or “he deepened the kiss” or any variation of kissing and deepening. It’s in almost EVERY book, and I always sigh when I see it. I think I’m getting worse with old age.
I think I maybe could have liked this book more if the plot were stronger, but nope. First off, the world-building was poor and a lot of things didn’t make sense. It was a sort of modern day setting with technology that we have now but also with potions and fantasy creatures and other stuff - and I actually really liked this idea. But so much was unexplained, so many things seemed contradictory and it didn’t come together. Like synthetic potions vs natural potions - what was actually the difference? If you are replicating ingredients exactly, why does it matter if it’s not sourced naturally? Was it some magical thing? And I was confused by a whole bunch of other stuff too. It could have worked with a little more explanation, but the premise of the whole book was trying to find a way to save the princess and I felt like making the characters go on the Wilde Hunt (a quest, basically) was just there to add drama. The characters didn’t even know what the quest entailed. They were gambling away this girl’s life on chance, even though they had other resources they hadn’t fully taken advantage of (there was no explanation really as to why modern medicine couldn’t save the princess, or why they had to do this weird quest which no-one had done in ages when there was no guarantee it would help. And what was everyone else doing while the few people taking part in the quest went off? Just faffing around, waiting for them to come back? I didn’t get why this quest seemed like the ONLY way to save the princess, and as for finding out the ingredients in the potion - couldn’t they have just examined the princess’s blood?). Plus, did no-one care that giving someone a love potion would be taking away their free will meaning they couldn’t actually give true consent? Like, wouldn’t this be a violation of human rights? Or at least wrong enough that the princess would be in serious trouble? Love potions were illegal in this world, was she going to get away with it just because she was royal? That’s so 1400s.
And don’t even get me started on the princess herself, because I did not care for Evelyn at all. I didn’t care about her good intentions, I didn’t care about her home life, I just could not sympathise with this girl (even though it was clear that I was really supposed to). I also really did not enjoy her chapters - they were pointless and only made me dislike her more.
Things did get a bit better once things actually started happening. This book started off very, very slowly. Every chapter I was waiting for something to happen, I was practically screaming “make some progress already” in my head every time I turned a page on my Kindle. But once the Hunt began, the pace picked up and I did enjoy some parts. The humour at times wasn’t bad too, but sadly none of the good things could really make up for the other problems I was having with this book. The ending was disappointing as well - [spoiler, highlight to read]they beat Emilia way too easily[end of spoiler] and it ended rather abruptly after that.
Overall, I was not a fan of this book. It was too frustrating to be the cute and fun book that it was intended to be. I wouldn’t actively advise against reading this, but I can’t highly recommend it either.