Monday, August 18, 2014


22849611Meet 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.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Sean Malone is the smartest person in the world and a threat to national security in this novel of intrigue, accident, and escape, Elixir by Ted Galdi.  

For the first half of the novel, Sean is a fourteen-year-old boy. He's incredibly intelligent, suffering from guilt-induced depression, and overall, lonely. He hates his brilliance, viewing it as a curse instead of like a blessing. Sean struggles to fit in as the young genius when all he wants to be is a normal kid with his parents still alive. Readers will empathize with this version of Sean, laying a foundation for a stronger connection but not building on it. 

The second half of the novel, Sean is an eighteen-year-old who is in the FBI's protection program with a new name and new identity. He's escaped the weight of being famous and overly smart, giving him the chance to be a normal teenager. And he loves it. Sean discovers his enjoyment for art, through graffiti, and motorcycles. With this time lapse, readers witness Sean grow and get the life he wanted, allowing the bond to begin strengthening. But when Sean's girlfriend contracts Ebola, Sean is forced to dive back into the life he escaped in order to save her. 

The plot is a little twisty in this science fiction/action novel. With Sean being two different ages, it is almost like reading two different books. The first half (book) moves quite slowly. Sean wins Jeopardy, goes to SoCal Tech, and then accidentally creates an equation that could hack through any encryption without leaving a trace. Oops. Thus, he is mortally threatened and must use the resources of the FBI to obtain a new identity and flee the country. 

Four years later, the pace picks up and the book finally sinks its teeth into the reader. Sean lives in Italy and his lovely girlfriend is suddenly dying of Ebola. Sean knows he has the power to craft a vaccine but in order to do so, he must return to the United States and hope that he goes undetected. Though it definitely doesn't go that way. Elixir begins as a slow-paced action novel, but the plot and character struggle keep readers engaged. Quite enjoyable for Galdi's debut. 

Rating: 3/5 Cups

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