A mostly Young Adult book review blog run by a mother and daughter team.
All it took was reading Madly’s opening scene to become head-over-heels excited to read this novel. A story with magic, competition, and a love spell gone wrong? It sounded totally like my cup of tea. I can say that after having already finished this novel, Madly is the type of novel that many readers entering the realm of YA will absolutely adore. It’s a light-hearted, amusing read that kept me guessing until the very end.
Set in a world where magic is a common part of modern life, protagonist Samantha Kemi is the descendent of a long line of alchemists. Her life is average, at best, living as the only non-Talent daughter within her household. Under the rule of a monarchy that watches over the entirety of Nova, Samantha is called to arms alongside a multitude of other alchemists when a love potion (a brand of potion that is outlawed) gone wrong afflicts the kingdom’s beloved princess. Presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, Sam embarks on a quest of her own to discover a cure and save Princess Evelyn before it’s too late. However, in order to do so, Sam is forced to work against Zain Aster. Her biggest competition and a boy who she’s always thought had no idea she existed. But there’s something about Zain that Sam is drawn to and she isn’t too sure if it’s the result of something real or something magical.
What immediately caught my attention with Madly was Alward’s prose. We are first introduced to a scene that is told in the third person, and the past tense, through the eyes of Princess Evelyn. It was absolutely gorgeous. One of the most riveting introductory scenes that I’ve ever had the opportunity to read. Everything about it—the word-choice, the structure—it all just worked. That being said, I was hyped to read more of this wonderful prose only to discover that the majority of Madly is told in Sam’s point of view. The only catch? All of Sam’s chapters are told in the first person, present tense. Throughout readingMadly I wished so badly that the entire story had been told as it had first been presented, as it was difficult to switch later on from present tense to past tense, third person to first person, and so on and so forth.
The world of Madly gave me some very real Lunar Chronicles vibes in the best way. I loved the setting for how unique it was, and I adored the way that Nova had been established and introduced to the reader. The idea of a world filled with ‘Talented’ peoples and alchemists was intriguing, and the time spent within it was great. My only hope was that there would be a bit more elaboration throughout the novel addressing the backstory behind Nova and the kingdom’s history. In a world where you have magic and science existing alongside one another, I imagined that there might have been some sort of overlap or turmoil that had presented itself in the past? I hope that, should we get to look into the world of Madly again in the future, we learn more about the setting’s history.
As for the romance inside of Madly, it’s the kind of novel that has romance that I think younger teen girls will adore. You have your sex-god handsome teenage boy possibly falling for the plucky, average girl that could be anybody in their mind’s eye. The romance was light and cute and left me cheering on the Sam/Zain ship. They were definitely my one true pairing while reading. And the ‘romance’ between Princess Evelyn and the new apple of her eye was beyond hilarious.
I would recommend Madly to any readers who are looking for a good YA novel to test out. Any readers who are looking for a fantasy read that is quick and fun should also give Madly a read. Any readers who are fans of romance, novels with supernatural undertones, and readers who like novels that deal with competitions (a la Hunger Games, The Scorpio Races, etc.) should also check it out.