The Alchemyst (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Bk 1)
The Alchemyst - Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Bk 1 Author:Michael Scott He holds the secret that can end the world. 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.... more » 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 Newman 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. From the Hardcover edition.« less
caviglia reviewed The Alchemyst (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 5
I was pretty underwhelmed by "The Alchemyst" and I won't be reading the sequels. I will say - for younger people, it might be an enjoyable enough book (I guess), and may lead them into other, more interesting reading directions. It basically felt like a mish-mash of warmed over ideas from Harry Potter (The One!), Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology (while leaving out most of the stuff that made them interesting), and the action/special effect sequences from "The Mummy" movies. The writing was pretty flat, and he really could have used a good editor, because boy does he like to repeat himself! The characters are two-dimensional puppets who behave the way the plot dictates.
I would also like to note that this is the second YA book that I've read in the past couple of months where there is no sort of resolution at the end. The story just stops. As I said in my review for the other book, I have no problem with series long arcs, but any series book worth it's postage has some sort of individual structure. This does not. It's just one d@mn thing after another until you run out of pages. Look, I know the publishing world is in a lot of trouble, but I really hate this trend. /rant.
I liked this book a good mixture of using real people from history and magical fiction. Quick read enough action to make it hard to put it down. Ends in such a way you have to read the next book in the series.
I was at first a little daunted by the size of this book, so I put it aside for awhile until most of my students had finished the whole series and I was left behind. When I started to read (and listen) to this book, I was not immediately intrigued. It was very slow to catch my attention and I'm still not particularly sure that I care about the characters. Here is a brief summary of the story:
Nicholas Flamel and his wife are immortal because Nicholas unknowingly purchased The Codex from someone early in his life (over 500 years before the story begins). The Codex describes many secrets from the elder race, including prophecies and alchemical recipes. Anyways, the elders want this book so that they can take over the world. They have commissioned Dr. John Dee to get the book from Nicholas. So, on a summer afternoon, Dee goes after Flamel in Flamel's bookstore. Josh, a clerk from the bookstore, and his twin sister Sophie, attempt to help Nicholas and his wife from the seemingly mad man that is trying to steal and kill them. No good act goes unpunished, so Sophie and Josh get caught up in this mess. Dee ends up with most of the book and Flamel's wife. However, Sophie and Josh could be a set of twins that are prophesied about in the Codex. The battles begin as Flamel tries to train and protect the twins, while also trying to get the book back from Dee. Flamel enlists the help of some of the good(ish) elders and destruction flows through the rest of the book. Are the twins really magical? Is the prophecy correct? How many people can actually survive their exploits? Now, you have to read it and find out.
As I mentioned, I was not really into the book. The action was intriguing. There was a lot of movement and the book never really slowed down, but I never fell in love with the characters. I don't believe that Scott made them overly interesting. The elders are described in more depth than the twins, and the twins are really the focus of the book. It made it hard for me to buy into the book when I didn't care one way or the other if the main characters made it through. Also, there is a bit of conflict within Josh that I think could have been explored further. It may have made me want to read the next one more. I will say that the best part of this book is the mixing of mythology. The elders are all basically gods from ancient times. They are intriguing and the back stories that are slipped in here and there are fun to examine.
My student's have all enjoyed this book, so it is not a total loss for me. I believe that the constant adventure pulls a reader through regardless if they feel the same about the characters as I do. The magical fighting is creative and described very well. I think my favorite part comes towards the end after a major magical battle. Scott includes a quote from the local newspaper from that town and explains the attacks. It just made me laugh to see how the truth is changed in media even in fiction. This book is best suited for children ages 11 (if they are a strong reader) to 16.
To me, this book seemed like something along the lines of Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings meets the modern world, with other things thrown in that I can't compare to anything else. I read it quickly, and it did make for a somewhat exciting story, but it won't be one that stays with me for long. One thing that absolutely drove me crazy was that the author uses the same catchphrases and descriptive phrases over and over. It finally made me cringe to read the same phrase for what seemed like (or may have been!) the 14th time. Overall, I thought this book was just OK. Even though it's book one of a series, I may not continue on to the other books. For me, it just wasn't that much of an attention-grabber.