Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward...

Title- The Potion Diaries.
Author- Amy Alward.
Publish date- July 2nd, 2015.
Publisher- Simon and Schuster.
RRP- $16.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
When the Princess of Nova drinks the love potion she made, trouble is the only thing that can come for it. So the Potion Makers throughout the country are called to participate in an event to create a potion and save her.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for this review ARC!
Image Source: Simon and Schuster AU.

What I thought:
I admit, in all fairness, that I was not convinced on the way The Potion Diaries was sold to me, as a reader: a mix between The Hunger Games and The Princess Diaries? Even without having read the latter series, the idea does not intice me into reading a book that is a supposed mix of the two. I can't even imagine how a book could possibly be a mix of two so very different ideas- lucky for me, I didn't feel those vibes. Here's what I got that was similar:

  • there's a princess
  • a bunch of people are called together to participate in a competition to heal said princess from love potion-induced madness
  • someone is eliminating said teams offscreen (no deaths, mind)
  • there's a kind-of "forbidden" romance (and insta love) between contestants on two opposing teams
  • there is a diary, though it's more like a recipe journal
And that, as far as I could tell, was it.
This was an original, intriguing idea (though I'm not personally feeling the need for there to be a sequel) and I would have rather gone into it not anticipating an odd race between killer princesses. Though actually, I'd love to see Libba Bray tackle that.
But the way this story played out didn't turn out to be as enjoyable, captivating or interesting as it could have been. I felt like it was aimed at a slightly more juvenile audience than I personally can enthusiastically read- in the writing style, actions and reactions of the characters.

Samantha, the protagonist, doesn't feel to me like more than an incomplete shell. I don't feel like I got to know her, apart from the fact that she a. is a very talented potion maker,  she b. had long liked this one guy, and c. she abandoned her friends (only to be let off her subsequent guilt far too easily) without real thought.
We also get to meet the Princess Evelyn, poisioned by the love potion she made for, ah, that one guy, and now falling deeply for the person she believes her reflection to be. I didn't enjoy these alternate POV chapters- they were a way of showing Evelyn getting progressively volatile in her illness, but I just got the picture of a princess who was young, reckless and irresponsible.

The world of The Potion Diaries is one of the most intriguing aspects of the novel; it's a place where technology is incredibly advanced, yet they have unicorns and abominals and magic, potion making. Something I had issue with a few times during the novel was that the media, who were tracking the Wilde Hunt, were so easily controlled. If there's an evil lady going around and taking out the participants they're videoing, surely they'd get it on camera at least once? Or even just get her on camera. They didn't even get wind of the Princess' illness until, presumably, it was released officially- they certainly hadn't gotten wind of it when the potion makers had been told and given the chance to participate, which means not a single one of them sold out?

Some other notable instances:
  • hashtags exist in this world!
  • as do references to being a withering vine.
  • Though Sam and her Finder Kirsty decide to stay under the media radar, once they're presented with the opportunity of having a journalist tag along with them they agreed immediately...
  • this book involves a moment that felt like it was a little too familiar to THG, involving Peeta and Katniss' sleeping arrangements.
  • Oh, and the media? They turn on Sam for no actual reason and get a bit of girl hate going on. I don't even know.
  • Did I mention insta love?
  • Also: easy forgiveness.
And I'm done.

Rating: Poor/Hmm...
Lies. I'm not done at all.


  1. Aw, there seems to be some hype for this book so I was looking forward to reading it - it's a shame it wasn't a better, more cohesive read for you! I'll probably give a try sometime, but I won't have very high hopes for it. The instalove and the aim for a younger audience would probably put me off a bit.

    1. Really? I hadn't actually heard anything about it before reading it, although there is supposed to be a lot of hype about it. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, Charlene, if you choose to read it. It's definitely a really interesting idea, world, ect. but... didn't pan out for me. x

  2. I am so confused with this the heck was this marketed as a cross between The Hunger Games and The Princess Diaries?! Both of which I've read and loved mind you. this sounds nothing like either of them...

    I still need to review this book, but now I'm a little put off by the childish tone of the story. The whole concepts sounds really odd, but who knows, I might true and go into it with no expectations and see how I go. Thanks for the honest review Romi! xx

    1. Maybe if the concept had been gone into more, in the marketing, it would have been more understandable? But the novel was actually nothing like THG and what I know of Diaries, so... perhaps not.

      Oh! I hope I didn't put you off, Joy! }: I do think it'd be a good idea to go into it and not expect anything. You might enjoy it more without anticipating Katniss and Mia battling it out!
      Thanks so much, Joy! xx

  3. Hunger Games/Princess Diaries truly is a farfetched set of comp titles. Hmm. I'm thinking maybe it is actually MG? I've heard a lot of hype about Potion Diaries, but it's not really my type of read, and I'm glad I stayed off the bandwagon. And I totally agree with you on the subject of instalove.

    1. I was shocked, for sure, when I saw that. And it gave me such a wild array of feelings and thoughts as to what the story would actually be, so I was let down in the end that it wasn't close to either. I definitely wouldn't buy a book, knowing nothing about it, just because it was compared to THG and TPD.
      You know, I don't think it is. It feels like it's supposed to be YA, and the characters are YA age... they're just not all that well developed, I think, and act fairly immature.

      I didn't hear any hype for it, myself! I'm not sure what I would have made of it, though.

  4. Hmm, definitely weird marketing indeed. When I read the synopsis I was thinking cute, light, fun romance story but this one just seems...odd. Hashtags? I don't even...why? Haha. And insta-love, boo. I'll be skipping this one, thanks for sharing!

    1. I think a lot of people will just be so swayed by the "it's like this and this" that when they find out it's not (unless they feel it is) it'll be that extra bit disappointing. Which is unfortunate.
      Ah, it was really amusing. Just the completely modern way it was referenced, it felt totally out of place and way too familiar to how we speak and use hashtags these days.

      Thanks, Alise! xx

  5. Hunger Games and Princess Diaries? What even? I have read and loved both series, and I find it hard to imagine a novel that brings the two together since they are so completely different in every way.

    I also knew this book would never be read by yours truly even before I read your review (which was lovely, by the way). I did not like the sound of the synopsis, and I just knew that it wouldn't be for me.

    And now that you've written an in depth review about the book ... I am even more sure of the fact that this book is not a Chiara book, by any means. It sounds generally kind of silly, and I'm never really keen for silly books, to be honest.

    It's a shame that you weren't enamoured with this book, and I hope your next read is better, Romi!

    Also, I'm guessing this is the green book that you swapped for Wandering Son? XD

    1. Well... I don't think you'd find either of them in this. I really don't know why it was marketed like that, or if it would actually help promote sales. It wouldn't incline me to buying, but eh.

      You know, I'd never heard of it before I received a copy! But I'm way off on book publishing news at the moment. It's saddening. I AM SO OUT OF TOUCH. But I get along so maybe that's fine!
      No... I don't think you'd like it much at all, Chiara, even if it would be amusing to hear you do a fiesty (by which I mean excellent, you know) review of it. It would cause a lot of irritation, I imagine.

      Thank YOU!
      No, it's not, actually! This ARC has more of a teal cover, anyway (I'm very specific about my colours); the book I originally chose was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which... I believe you know my thoughts on. xx

  6. haha oh my, yes I definitely have a hard time envisioning a book that is actually a cross between The Hunger Games and The Princess Diaries. Although that potentially could have been more interesting than what you got instead... Perhaps you're right that this one is meant for a younger audience as I don't think I would have dug those elements either.

    1. Same, same. BUT I really want Libba Bray to do it, now that I've thought of it. It would be incredible and hilarious and I need it. It definitely has to potential to be memorable in a more positive and lasting way, for sure, although... the idea is still rather odd.
      I do think it's intended for YA, but... the characters were just written young. They were 16 and 17, I think, which says YA to me.

  7. Lol, that's why I never really trust books that have "The next Hunger Games!" or "For fans of [insert book title here]!" printed on their covers... Most of the time they're lying and my expectations are raised for nothing. :/ The "love potion-induced madness" sounds really interesting though, so it's such a shame that the book ended up disappointing you.

    I hate it when I'm not able to connect with the main character at all! I mean, it's more understandable if that was the case with the secondary characters (though I'd prefer if that didn't happen too), but with the protagonist? Nope. Samantha doesn't sound very fleshed-out, and neither does the Princess. Yeah, I feel like having multiple POVs in a book is extremely risky because most of the time they only distance me from the characters instead of helping me relate to them better.

    I'm laughing at the hashtags. xD While I'm glad that this book had its good points (intriguing worlds are my thing!), overall it sounds like it was a huge let-down. Sorry this one didn't work out for you, Romi, but I'm hoping your next read is much better! Thanks for such an informative review! :)

    1. No, I find that element of marketing to be really frustrating. My expectations rise way too high and are really never met, and I end up not appreciating, necessarily, the book for it's own elements of originality.

      It can be useful sometimes, with multiple POV, but I don't tend to enjoy it, no. It's good to see what's happening to the other characters, but... I guess it has to be done really, really well, and you have to be able to connect with all the characters, not just one.

      I was stunned, but it is rather amusing. If odd.
      Yes! Intriguing worlds are excellent. Only wish this had been a bit more... alive, I suppose.
      Thanks so much for your lovely, thoughtful comment, Megan! xx

  8. I won this is in a giveaway and wow, I have to agree, it was marketed so wrong haha. Instalove is ughh but I'm hoping this will still be a cute, fluffy read. Nice review, Romi!

    1. Oh, well I do hope you enjoy it as a lighter read, Juwairiya! It has the potential to just be easy going, but for me it wasn't enough. Since you've got a copy I really hope it works better for you! xx

  9. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. It seemed like an interesting read but I can see where you are coming from.


    1. Have you read this one, Jordan? I think if the marketing had been done differently and I had known better what was being presented it would have been a slightly better experience. Also, I just feel like it would be so much more fluid and believable if it were MG. xx


Thank you so much for reading my post and, if you care to, commenting! It means a lot to me that you have thoughts on this thing (whatever it may be), too, and want to share them.

Please note, however, that nothing hurtful will be tolerated.

Have a beautiful day.x