Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review: The Alchemist

I’m holding to my New Year’s resolution so far! And it isn’t even the New Year yet. I’m betting a thousand! Woot!
So I finally completed The Alchemist by Michael Scott and I have to say I really liked it, so much so that I purchased a digital of The Magician, the second book in the series and have started plowing through it. I’ve completed close to half of that book now too and I have to say the series has got me hook, line, and sinker.

A quick summation: The book is about two twins living in San Francisco that have a unique friendship with a couple that owns a bookshop in San Francisco and how that relationship is turned on its ear and the very nature of their lives changes when an old enemy of the couple walks back into their lives. While the story is centered around the twins, and how they may or may not be part of a prophecy put down in a book called The Codex, they are hardly the most interesting part. I’d go so far as to say the story even drags a bit when the narration is focused solely on them. Where the book, and so far the series as a whole, thrives is when it blends history and mythology seamlessly. Characters that history has marked as dead (Nicholas Flamel, Dr. John Dee) and alive and bitter enemies. Mythological creatures and places that we’re supposed to assume never existed are indeed real. And watching as all these things and places blur into each and separate is where the story really excels.

The other place in which it excels is the action. It is paced quite nicely. There are fight scenes that are quite visual, fierce characters to side with (I officially want to be Scathach, period. End stop.)

The only place where it slows is when the narration and focus comes back around to the twins, and even then it still speeds along quite nicely. When the story focuses on them, in becomes bogged down a tad in redundant emotion and narration. Things the twins are feeling are explained and re-explained a few times. Not that isn’t a part of what its like being a teenager, but for better or worse, that is where the story drags.

But really, it is only a minor quibble in a story that takes myths we thought we know and starts creating its own myth and mythology in the process, which any good book worth its weight in paper should do. Highly recommended. A-, B+.

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