Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Alchemyst

The Alchemyst(The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)-by Michael Scott
Cover Image

Twins Sophie and Josh Newman take summer jobs across the street from each other in San Francisco. Three strange men enter the bookstore where Josh works looking for the Codex- The Book of Abraham, the Mage. The Codex is in the possession of Josh’s boss, Nick Fleming. The twins soon learn that Nick Fleming is really Nicholas Flamel—the Alchemyst and the holder of the elixor of life. The men swipe the Codex (and Flamel’s wife Perry), but not before Josh is able to tear out the critical last two pages. The twins learn that they may be mentioned in the book’s prophecies, a fact that will forever change their lives and have them on the run with Flamel.

In The Alchemyst, Scott weaves mythology, history and fiction together to create a story which begins at a breakneck pace and builds from there. Scott doesn’t begin with a scene or two to let the reader know a little about the characters—he starts almost immediately with action before the reader really knows who the characters are. It’s a riskly move but it pays off for him in the end as he sucks you with the action and fills in the other parts as the story evolves.

From a writing standpoint, The Alchemyst uses several different points of view, but never once did I get confused as to whose point of view it was that I was reading. Scott usually separates the POV’s as different sections or chapters. It helps that the pov changes follow consistently within the structure of the plot. Scott also includes a lot of historical and mythical information throughout the book. The background information is woven into the dialogue but it never feels like he’s using one character to lecture the other characters.

There are some plot points that do seem a bit contrived. The mirrors as a leygate (or passage) seems a bit reminiscent of HP 6, and the cabinets acting as passageway in and out of Hogwarts for Voldemort’s followers. The mirrors appear at a time when it seems that the main characters are trapped. Other than this flaw, I really enjoyed this book. It's a great example of how to write a fast-paced Fantasy novel as it doesn't get bogged down in world building or try to be more than it is.

Next up, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson



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