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 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.
First Look: ***** I've picked this up probably three or four times now at the library, and each time I put it down. Okay, maybe I put it in my pile to take home once, but it was booted out by a shiny copy of The Eternity Code that I just couldn't resist rereading for the fifth time. This has everything to do with the fact that the name Nicholas Flamel was on the cover. My thought process went a little like this: "Oh, hey, this book again. It looks kinda interesting, but...Nicholas Flamel? He was in Harry Potter. Does that mean Michael Scott just made a dumb move and used the same name? Why should I bother, then? Or maybe...hey, look, Pendragon!"
Setting: ***** Setting wasn't really part of this book at all. It started in San Francisco, which is a nice place. I've been there, but I still couldn't get a feel for it from this book. And as soon as they started driving south, I was completely lost. I have no idea whatsoever what's south of San Francisco. And Nick didn't even care that his bookshop was completely destroyed?
Characters: ***** They were okay. I would've thought Nicholas Flamel (who was actually real! Yeah! Go check it out on Wikipedia, people!) would be a really interesting character, since he's...well, ancient. In the end, though, he was just okay. The main characters, the twins, just weren't enough for me to fall in love with. They felt a tad flat, and I couldn't bring myself to care about them. I saw some nice I'm-about-to-pull-a-Murtagh-on-you with Josh at the end, though, which shows promise. Hopefully they'll improve in the later books. I did really like Scatty. She made me laugh.
|The UK cover...which is cooler, if you ask me.|
Plot: ***** It was very exciting! It was full of action and magic and magical fight scenes, which are the best kind. Magical battles are cooler than regular ones any day. I also loved the clash of mythology. I love mythology, and this used themes and characters from Celtic legend, Egyptian, Greek, and more. Amazing!
While I liked this plot, I'm really not sure how it can span another four books. We'll have to see how that goes. *crosses fingers*
Uniqueness: ***** This is a new, fresh kind of read. While it borrows from mythology, it was done in a new way, putting a different spin on it.
Writing: ***** The beginning drove me absolutely nuts. Most authors would write "Josh Newman" the first time the character is introduced. After that, he would just be "Josh". But no, not Michael Scott. For the first few chapters, he kept using characters' first and last names, as if we would forget. It was beyond annoying. It gradually faded off after awhile.
After that, just a few things annoyed me: First, the word "was" was used a lot. It bothered me. Second, some of the prose seemed...I don't know...off. I know that's vague, but... Last, he seemed to remind us a lot that Sophie and Josh were twins, when we got it fine the first time.
Likes: I really liked the mythology stuff. And the magic. And the title. Alchemyst is a cool word, though I don't know why it's spelled like that.
Not-so-great: It was way too easy to get the parents out of the way. And other things mentioned above.
Total Score: I liked this. It was an enjoyable, exciting read. It effectively blended modernity and mythology and super magical powers. The characters were a tad flat and the writing wasn't spectacular, but not enough to keep you from liking this book. I'm not sure how it will hold out over an entire series, but I'm certainly going to have a go at the next book.