Monday, July 28, 2014

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
I was kind of hoping to like this book a little more than I did. I heard the author speak a while back, and he was fantastic. The premise of the book was awesome. And the amount of research, history, and mythology that leaked from the pages was rather amazing. I just wasn’t necessarily feeling the action scenes or the two main characters that well.
I wanted to like Sophie and Josh. I really did. Normally, I love twin main characters. I think my problem with them was that they were supposed to be teens. And while they were old enough to do things like drive (with an adult in the car) or work summer jobs at a cafĂ© and bookstore, so much of their personalities screamed 9 or 10 year-old to me. Their arguments, their jealousy, and their problem-solving all felt rather juvenile. And there were moments too when it wasn’t even that they sounded juvenile so much, as the author was really, really trying to sound youthful, and not quite pulling it off.
The adult characters were my favorites. How can you not like Nicholas Flamel? And of course his awesome, kick-butt wife who was throwing punches while imprisoned was pretty epic too. I even was fascinated by the bad guy (in a kind of Magneto way). There were some fantastical centuries old mythological creatures that were super interesting too. It’s the two sort of normal characters that were the ones lacking for me; the author seemed to be struggling with how to write teenagers and I almost wish they were children or adults instead.
The plot was also not as cool as I was expecting it to be. I liked the idea of ancient elders finding excuses to battle it out. I also found the prophecy with the twins to be kind of cool too. But, all the battles with birds and cats just seemed kind of comical to me. I feel like the writer wanted these scenes to be super suspenseful, but they came off rather silly. A lot of action felt like cartoon action and it was hard for me to take it seriously. Scary dinosaur creatures end up being friendly and communicative. There’s a super strong power that turns the mythical cat warriors into real cats…I just kind of kept smiling at that stuff, and not in a good way.
That being said, Michael Scott was able to draw in all kinds of mythology from all over the world, unique pieces of history, and plenty of good ideas that I know will need to be addressed later in the series. I was impressed by how much he was able to put into one book. And I was impressed by how well all the different pieces fit together. I do wish I cared more for the main characters. (Maybe I’d like Sophie and Josh more if they were either children or adults). I also wish some of the action scenes came off more seriously and suspenseful, as compared to comical. I give this one a 7/10.

1 comment:

  1. I actually DNF'ed this one when I attempted to read it, years ago. I very rarely DNF books and seeing you speak about the things you enjoyed - and your rating for this one makes me think I might have been too hasty dismissing this one way back when. I do remember not connecting to the two MCs as you mentioned though. The plot had underwhelmed me as well, I remember expecting a kind of Percy Jackson/HP vibe but sadly it wasn't the case. I am seriously considering giving it another try now! Excellent review Nori ^^