It has been a while since I have read a book that was part of a series. I am usually very wary of series; jumping into the first part of a story and not knowing if the momentum will stay consistent through the rest of the books is a big risk for a reader. It is the worst feeling when book one ends and you either don’t want to get book two or when you do, it doesn’t live up to its predecessor.
That is most certainly not the case here. Michael Scott has produced an easy to read and fun adventure that smoothly and accurately mixes history, mythology, legend and lore all together into an amazing depiction of our world. While the book is a ‘Teen Sci-Fi and Fantasy’ book it reads much more like Harry Potter or Hunger Games then something purely for teens. It is the ease at which the story flows that truly makes this story brilliant. Legends you recognize are seamlessly weaved into the story to help you to believe the fantastic events that are taking place; the really cool thing is that when a character pops up in the book you can type the name into Google and find it and its stories online (which the characters in the story often do themselves).
A brief look at the Plot (No Spoilers)
The book’s plot, while having a many aspects to it that are quite unique, feels like a fairly standard fantasy/sci-fi adventure. I was a little concerned at first because the pacing seemed a little strange and I began to panic a bit, but after the first couple of chapters the book finds its pace and the plot unfolds swimmingly.
The book follows two teenage twins Sophie and Josh Nelson, who while working their normal jobs are whisked into a crazy adventure spurred forward by the mysterious Nicholas Flamel. Flamel – like most of the characters in the book – is a real character in our history, who has an extensive Wikipedia page. Nicholas is an immortal alchemyst who has taken it upon himself to guard the powerful and dangerous Book of Abraham. A book that has ancient knowledge of spells and rituals that can remake the world, grant great power, immortality, or simply drown the world in flames; Nicholas has used his centuries of reading and studying the book to grant himself and his wife Perenelle immortality and the skills to be powerful enough to protect it.
As with many sources of power though there are those who wish to take it. That is where Dr. John Dee comes in. Once a student of Nicholas Flamel, Dr. Dee became enchanted with the power and mysteries the Book of Abraham contained and desired it for himself. This obsession with the book sparked a centuries long hunt with Nicholas and Perenelle battling Dee, and slipping into the shadows of society. Dr. Dee is not the only nefarious enemy that the Flamels must face, for Dr. John Dee serves a master, a master dark and mysterious whose identity remains hidden to both the Flamels and all the other evil forces pursuing the immortal couple.
As you can see Sophie and Josh don’t really have much of a chance of a normal life; with Josh working for Nicholas and Sophie being friends with Perenelle they are immediately swept up into the chaos when Dr. Dee comes for the book. With the book in his sights, Dr. Dee attacks the small book store and steals away the Book of Abraham and Perenelle leaving Nicholas searching for what comes next. Without the book Nicholas and Perenelle are subject to the passage of time, and there is something about the twins that seems familiar to Nicholas. Could the twins be part of the prophecy? Can Nicholas get the book back before Dee unleashes terrible evil or the Flamels finally succumb to old age?
These questions are the driving force behind the plot, and as I said in general the plot seems very standard, but it due to the extensive research that Michael Scott performed to form the characters and the fine plot details that truly makes this particular adventure unique and tons of fun.
The Alchemyst is a brilliant introduction to a deep and creative world inhabited by fun and unique characters rooted in real histories, myths and legends. While in general the plot seems a little standard, you can’t help but be intrigued by the adventure that unfolds. Fans of the Hunger Games, and Harry Potter series should enjoy the book and those who are seeking a fun new series should definitely give this series a try.