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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.
That’s sweet: I really liked Sean Malone from the beginning and that even though I am not a great fan of teenage boys in books. But he has that vulnerability about himself that makes him care for humanity and stay grounded even though he is highly intelligent and solves a mathematical problem that no one has ever solved before. But you just have to like him as he comes across as a normal boy being interested in films, girls, playing with his friends and just get on with his life. And then chaos hits as the NSA finds out the implications of his solution to the Travelling Salesman Problem.
That stings: Unfortunately the other characters in Ted Galdi’s book are not as well developed as the main character. They come across rather like props in the story than living characters. For example, you learn hardly anything about the life of his girlfriend: who is she? Is she going to school? Does she have a job? What are her hobbies and her likes or dislikes?
There are also rather unconvincing parts of the story: When his teacher finds out Sean has solved the unsolvable Travelling Salesman Problem he informs the NSA and both of them are called to meet involved people. On the plane his teacher tells him that he needs to delete all files containing any information about the solution from his computer as terrorists might get into it and bring chaos to the world. I think though if that is really that dangerous he and the NSA for that would have made sure Sean deletes the files first and then travel to meet the NSA people.
Meeting the NSA and the Secretary of State Defence just ends with signing a contract saying he would never say anything about that solution as well as never using it and then going home. His life for now goes on like normal. I doubt very much though that the NSA would let a talented young man like him slip away just like that. They would take him under their wing and make sure he gets the best education possible to ensure he will work for them. It just did not sound true to me, but I did go on reading as I wanted to know how Sean’s life would develop. I also thought: “That is a different take on the story. Not how you expect it. That’s interesting.”
The FBI helps him to get a new life under a cover identity in Italy and he meets the love of his life who tragically contracts a deadly virus. She is transported to a hospital in Switzerland and Sean follows to visit her. He has never met her parents and she had described her father as rather nasty, but for some strange reason Sean ends up in a conversation with her parents and the specialist who treats her. What hospital and parent would let a boyfriend of his daughter, whom they never had met before be in an important discussion about the health of the girl? It would be understandable if they knew he is super intelligent and might find a cure for the girl but that is not known to them. After all, he has a cover identity to secure him from the advances of governments and terrorist because he had solved the Travelling Salesman Problem.
That was too unconvincing for me so I stopped reading as I just could not go on with the book.
And the honey of it all? I have met an interesting main character in a story that develops rather unconvincingly and is surrounded by other characters whom you learn hardly anything from. That was very disappointing as the story has so much potential. Sad, very sad.
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