This was my 5th book for the 2015 Reading Challenge. A book recommended by a friend (my cousin). A super fast read. Reminiscent of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief but with a lot less humor and way more whining. Then again, I haven’t read Percy in a while, so it may be as annoying.
Premise: The Codex, a super important magical book with lots of important things including but not limited to the Elixir of Immortality, has been stolen from its protectors, Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel by Dr. John Dee, a lackey of the Dark Elders (the “Big Bad”). Not everything is lost, however, as 15 1/2-year old Josh Newman, whose summer job is working for the Flamels in their bookshop, managed to rip and keep the last two, and of course, most important, pages of the Codex. He and his twin, Sophie, are revealed/assumed to be the twins of prophecy, possessing pure gold and silver auras, respectively, which is pretty rare, apparently. According to the Codex, which contains practically everything, they have the power to save or destroy the world. The prophecy goes, “The two that are one, and the one that is all,” and it seems to be a widely held belief that one twin will cause the world’s destruction, the other, its salvation. Or something.
It’s a fun, fast-paced book with a lot of action and adventure. The story is engaging and you want to find out what happens to Nicholas and Perenelle (who was captured, by the way) and the twins and whatever creature of legend crosses their path. It serves as a really good introduction to different mythologies, because a lot of deities (and monsters!) from various cultures are mentioned (Hekate *Greek*, Odin *Norse*, and so on). And it’s cool that many (all?) of the immortal humans are historical figures (including Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel!). The places are also quite vivid and, as the author explains in the Author’s Note part, he visited all (?) or most of the locations of his books’ settings, and it shows.
Also, according to my notes, the book redeemed itself by the end, though the fact that I can barely remember why I said that (I remember what happened) doesn’t bode well.
It’s a YA book, and it shows in the writing. I mean, I figure it’s deliberately written that way. There were a lot of redundancies when the author described things, enough for me to find distracting. A. Lot. Immortals like black, if their clothing and physical features are any indication. Also, the twins’ tongues always feel too large for their mouths (that sounds strange when I type it like that lol) and I wish the author would find different figures of speech for when they’re tongue-tied or nervous. Or in general, now that I think about it. I’m also a bit meh about the plethora of mythological immortals. I don’t much like everything and everyone being mixed up and I prefer Riordan’s format in Percy Jackson or The Kane Chronicles, but that’s just me. I can see how this would appeal to a lot of other people though.
Also, for a book titled “The Alchemyst”, emphasis on the “alchemy”, I don’t remember which parts were alchemical in nature, aside from the constant mention of turning common metals to gold and coal to diamond and brewing the potion of immortality, none of which they actually did during the book. Those three are it, by the way. I don’t know what else constitutes alchemy, though it might just be my muddled sleepy brain right now. Flamel is *THE* Alchemyst, but I feel like, with a recipe book, I could totally be *THE* Alchemyst as well. I can follow cookbooks and alchemy or whatever doesn’t seem that much more difficult.
There were some plot holes and inconsistencies, especially at the beginning, and the book is more plot than character driven. It’s almost like the characters are just along for the ride. Oh, we have to have a change of scenery? Well, there’s this dude we have to go to to be trained or something or other so let’s go there! They also act inconsistently, their moods dependent on where the author wants the plot to go.
There was also so much whining. Whine, whine, whine, especially from Josh. I kind of wanted him to die several times, and still do, as I’m reading the second book. It’s almost like he wants to find an excuse to be contrary for fun. And he wants everyone to know how he feels. I get how teenagers are like that but ugh. Honestly, I was probably worse =)) At least they have more “real” problems and dangers, but I don’t like reading things I wrote during my teenage years for that reason. Also, Sophie describes Josh as loyal somewhere in the first half of the book, and I’m really not getting that. More like a selfish, self-entitled brat. Which okay, fine, that probably describes the majority of teenagers, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Also, the timeline’s kinda effed up.It seems to me that the author is so committed to having the whole book happen in just one day that logic takes a backseat Time speeds up or slows down when it’s convenient for the author and the characters seem to be superhuman, hardly needing time to rest.
There’s also no real sense of danger, almost. I mean, the main characters are “chosen ones” so they’re already born strong. “Developing” their powers, if you can call it that, hardly seems like much of an effort. I’m halfway through the second book and it’s more apparent here how easy it is to “train” in certain elements. It’s almost like a video game. Go to X, talk to Y, done! Achievement unlocked! You have access to Magic Z!
It’s not a horrible book. It has an interesting premise (man, these good premises have to stop biting me in the ass. I’m looking at you, Elantris.) and I do want to know how it ends. That said, I’d heartily recommend it more to pre- and early teens than 20-somethings. To the 20-somethings, I’d say that there are glaring issues with the book/s that I do think can be overlooked if you want to turn off your brain for a quick YA fantasy ride. Since I haven’t finished the series, I can’t say if the payoff is worth it, but right now, if you really want to thoroughly digest what you’re reading (which I’m trying to do), don’t pick up this book. 3.8/5 mostly for the premise and the latter half of the book apparently