Saturday, 24 July 2010

Review: The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Publisher: Corgi Children's
Format: Paperback
Released: May 24th, 2007
Grade rating: B+

Amazon summary:

Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred 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 and Nicholas Flamel lives. 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. And 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.


Recently, I find I haven't read many openers of an existing series that have really made me desperate for the second book. Nothing has grabbed me enough, until a lovely publicist highly recommended I try Michael Scott's first book in the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. I'm so glad I listened and, Corinne, if you're reading this: thank you!

I don't read a lot of YA fantasy, so I am in no way an expert of any kind. What I do read, like Harry Potter and Eragon, I choose carefully. Usually they have to include magic, dragons or, if I'm very lucky, both. The Alchemyst has magic, legends, a fight between good and evil and, get this: A VAMPIRE. With a difference. I think it was written just for me.

Scott's writing didn't wow me, and I'll admit I didn't think it was anything amazing. What I did like was how he incorporated many well-known myths and legends into his story, as well as numerous mentions of world events, and famous people and places. The 1666 Great Fire of London even played a part in this story, which is just beyond cool. It's like this fantastical fight has spanned generations and, unless you're involved, you won't know anything about it. I love things like that and, the next time I see a large number of cats following me, let's just say I know who I'll be calling.

Scott's characters were all easy to become invested in, although some stood out more than others. I actually thought main characters Sophie and Josh were the weakest of the lot, with Nicholas, Perenelle and Scathach owning the page. The numerous Elders, villains and creatures involved made The Alchemyst an exciting read, and I never once found myself losing concentration. A couple of sections required a little more attention than others, as there was a lot of history being explained, which came complete with new fantasy names to learn and events to remember. It didn't bore me though, and instead added a change of pace to the narrative.

As the first book in a series, The Alchemyst is pretty rock solid. It sets things up for book 2, The Magician, and ends on a mild cliffhanger. If it had been any worse, I'd have been heading to buy the next book straight away. I can't wait to find out what happens next, and I just hope I can get hold of The Magician soon. Until then, I will exercise some patience.

When you study for a PhD online, you'll be doing a lot of reading.


asamum said...

It is a really good series - with some really clever plot twist ;)
I did think about the vampire until you mentined it - she rocks :D
So glad you enjoyed it

Cat @ Beyond Books said...

I started this book last summer and never finished it (nothing against the book, I was going through some health stuff). The writing did't wow me either from what I read and I think that's one of the reasons that during my illness I couldn't keep reading. I meant to pick it back up this summer - and then I got bombarded by other books!

Everyone tells me I should stick with the series and I think I'll go back to it once I get these other books out of the way. ;) Or if the mood strikes me. I am such a mood reader!

Ekta said...

I love this series!! It's way up there with Harry Potter for me. There are always new twists and the action and secrets are never ending. You'll love the series!

agirlreads said...

I love this series. The characters and storyline just get stronger and it definitely hooks you :) Hope your enjoy The Magician :D

Lea (YA Book Queen) said...

Great review! This sounds awesome! I'll have to look for it the next time I go to the library :)

Becky said...

Great review. It took me a while to get into this and it was a long time ago when this was first published. I didn't like the american feel to it but I remember it had a fab ending. I'm going to give the next book a try. You read Eragon? I did not finish that book. Are you shocked? I always finish books but I thought that book was bad. A real Lord of the Rings rip off or at least the bit that I read up to! :-)

Lauren said...

I'm about to read a later book in this series, so your review was extremely helpful to me. I've been trying to decide whether to read the entire series or just jump right in at the instalment I've got, and now I think I'm going to go for the latter. The historical aspects / references are appealing to me a lot, and the sheer scale of this sounds pretty amazing too. Fab well-balanced review as ever. :)

Anonymous said...

i just bought the first book of the series i am interested in the topic of the series. i hope i enjoy the series.

Cassia said...

I actually just read this a couple of weeks ago. I agree with you on the characters--Nicholas, Perenelle, and Scathach are a little more developed. (Well, that's what I think at least.). I'm reading the third book, The Sorceress, now, and I'm not too fond of Sophie and Josh, but I do like them. I love the history part!!