Thursday, April 12, 2012

YA Review - The Alchemist

The Alchemist
Michael Scott
Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1
Release date: August 28th 2008 (ebook version)
by Random House Publishing

Goodreads / Purchase 
The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day.  It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty. The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is  hidden within the book he protects - the Book of Abraham the Mage.  It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it.  Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time. - synopsis

My thoughts
The theme of the book is a familiar one.  Bad guy steals key to ultimate world devastation, good guy fights to get it back. Young heros join the battle, but little to they realize that they play a much larger part in the story. Timeless theme that's worked for many an author and it was just as successful for author Michael Scott here.  The codex - Book of Abraham the Mage has fallen from the safekeeping of the immortal Flamels and now in the company of two unprepared but brave teenagers, Nicholas Flamel - keeper of the book, seeks to retrieve it, save the world, the love of his life and fulfill a prophecy almost as old as the earth itself.  And they say librarians are boring, what?!

I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace of this story.  The story reads like a Jerry Bruckheimer film - fast,  flashy and entertaining.  Within the first thirty pages of the book, there's magical battles, exploding bookstores, flames, kidnapping and melting henchmen. All I needed was some movie popcorn and the experience would have been complete.  There are some really great fantastic characters in this book. Nicholas Flamel, a brilliant and patient man who still manages to surprise his oldest friends with the things that he does.  Perenelle Flamel, love of Nicholas's eternal life who is as fiery as he is subtle. Perenelle is a woman of indescribable power who would stop at nothing to save the ones she cares about, even at the risk of her own peril.  Josh and Sophie, the smart, brave and resourceful teens who are as complex as they ought to be - honest and devoted, yet flawed with jealousy, insecurity and immaturity. Hekate the ten thousand year old eternal with powers and knowledge unimaginable, Scathach - the second generation eternal, sarcastic and ageless warrior. And those are the good guys.  The bad guys are just as fascinating. This story is filled with great characters that draw you in and make you part of the story.

Now despite the fact that I love this story and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, I have to say there were some flaws. This is a storyline that might best be enjoyed by someone who is really familiar with the fantasy genre as a whole.  There were so many different characters from across genres crammed into this storyline that someone who is not quite as familiar with all of them may find this story hard to follow. Greek mythology, Atlantis, the history of magic, vampires... Even as a huge fan of the genre, I found myself stopping every once in a while to recall facts I knew about the characters from other renditions of their tales.

Bottom line though - an exciting read that was quick and fun!  I loved it!

Other books in the Series:

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