Book Review of The Alchemyst (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Bk 1)

The Alchemyst (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Bk 1)
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Helpful Score: 1

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.