Hamilton Takeover: Book Review: Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz cover

Alex & Eliza
by Melissa de la Cruz
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: April 11th 2017
Rating: Could have been better

I meant does it hurt when you hide every last shred of your individuality and self worth behind acres of silk and cups of powder and smiles that never, no matter how hard you try, reach your eyes?

I wouldn't say that this book disappointed me.  I didn't have high hopes for it.  But Melissa de la Cruz is a legit author, so there was potential.  But much like Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, Alex & Eliza has proven that writing about well-known and (at least to me) beloved characters and storylines are sadly not as automatic a home run as you might think. 

I would hazard a guess that if one has chosen this book, you are familiar with and enjoy the musical, Hamilton. Just to be clear this is not a book about that version of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton. This isn't a rip off of the musical.  It does feel as if it is an attempt to cash in on the musical's popularity. On the plus side, it is full of Hamilton references. If you are hugely into the musical, it was fun to come across them while reading.  

It is also not a novelization that adheres to the real character of the Hamiltons. Maybe it is the fact that I finally finished reading the Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton this week that has made me overly critical.  However, there was a lot about colonial life, and especially colonial life as a woman that was not explained at all or the reality just did not exist. Sometimes, in historical fiction this is acceptable but when the main characters were real people I expect a certain amount of historical detail and accuracy. It isn't as if there is a lack of research material.

I think that the book would have been more effective to have the YA romance be about two separate but Hamilton family adjacent characters.  A YA romance-y Johnny Tremaine type thing. It would have satisfied my need for all things Hamilton but also avoided me picking it apart because it did not adhere to my vision.  Seriously, change a few names, and it would have been ready to go. Why do people not run these things by me so I can give my input? 

One of my main gripes about this book (aside from my suspicions of it being a cash cow job) is that Melissa de la Cruz are the female relationships in this book.  So many things are ripped off from the play that it saddens me that the sister relationship was not fully developed in this book. But there are many irritating YA tropes to be found:
1: pretty but doesn't know it
2. not like "other girls."
3. she is SOOO smart
4. but modest
5. and selfless
6. but feisty! "Let's be mean and sassy for no reason."
7. nonconformist but also a daddies girl
8. hate to love- but like for no real reason?
9. big misunderstanding

So, you might like this if you are a huge fan of either the musical or the Treasury Secretary himself as well as romance you might enjoy this book. If you are looking for a dense historical novel about the American Revolution or the Hamiltons, it would be best to avoid this. I found it disappointing and in the end utterly tedious. 

From Goodreads:

blurbTheir romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.