Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz was sent to me by the Amazon Vine review programme in exchange for my honest opinion.
I chose Alex and Eliza because my fourteen year old daughter is totally obsessed by Hamilton the musical, and this book is a YA novel about the romance between Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, two of the main characters in the play.
I gave it to her to read first, she was so eager to get hold of it. After a few chapters however she brought it to me and told me that it wasn’t ‘her thing’ and would it be alright if she didn’t finish it? I asked her for more information and she said it was too ‘historical’ (I have no clue) and she just couldn’t get into it.
I then picked up the baton, and finished reading it yesterday.
I realise that I am not the ideal demographic for this novel, but it really wasn’t ‘my thing’ either. I have never read anything by Melissa De La Cruz before, and on reading the acknowledgements at the back of the novel, I was surprised to find that she has written several books prior to this and has been on the New York Times Bestseller lists. To be honest, I had thought this was by a first time author.
I wonder if the book was rushed somewhat, given all the furore and interest in Hamilton the Musical, because it seems like it could really have done with some more significant editing. There is a glaring continuity error in an episode in the middle of the book for example. I did wonder if the book had been considerably longer at one point and large sections had been excised without a lot of thought, as the story doesn’t flow terribly well, and is rather jumpy in terms of transitioning from scene to scene and section to section.
The historical aspect was also something I struggled with, not because it was too historical, or impenetrable, but because it seemed like the author had gone for a modern sensibility to make the story accessible, but then plonked bits of historical window dressing on top to give it a period feel. I felt this meant that the book lacked depth and was somewhat patronising to the reader’s ability to understand what it would have been like then.
Having said that, I imagine that given Hamilton’s popularity this will fly off the shelves in no time and readers and fans will be thrilled. It’s not too graphic, although there is mild violence, so it can easily be passed on to younger fans than the recommended teen age group for the book.