Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Reads: The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

I'm back on a bit of a YA Fiction kick again (as if I ever left) and decided to start in on Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series...starting with The Alchemyst.  As an added note - this is the first novel I have read on my new Kobo Touch (I did read Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese, but since it's for work and super short, I'm not counting it).

First things first, I must get this out of the way. This series is NOT written by the boss on The Office. There. Now that that's cleared up (and let me tell ya - I still giggle when I read the name)..I can get on with the review of the first book in this delightful series.

For anyone familliar with the Harry Potter books, you will know that Nicholas Flamel was the creator of the Philospher's Stone - the elixir of which will give the drinker immortality and has the power to transform ordinary materials into objects of great value.   This series starts with a magical confrontation inside of a bookstore and the revelation that the owner of the shop, Nick Fleming, is actual Nicholas Flamel.   Nicholas's wife, Perry, is abducted in the melee and they must get her back and recover the magical book that Dee (the bad guy) stole.  Twins Sophie and Josh, aged 15, are sucked into the adventure of a lifetime where Nicholas believes they are the twins who the legendary Codex foretold to be either the salvation or the destroyers of earth as we know it. 

The story itself flows fairly well, though there are areas where the author has gotten a little Jean M. Auel repetitive.   I'm going to hesitate to comment on his writing ability because I am keeping in mind that the audience he is writing for would be tweens (what?  Not 34 year old YA junkies? I know - I'm as shocked as you are).   It is written simply, yet colourfully.  He keeps the adventures flowing and does a great job of describing the magical creatures (even if he does describe a few of them over and over and over again).

I'm not going to go too in depth with the details here. I truly think that if you are a fan of young adult fantasy, then you should probably pick up the series for yourself and immerse yourself in it. Scott brings creatures of legend and incredible historical figures and weaves them into a modern-day fantasy tale in a way that the historians could never have predicted. This series may be labeled YA, but I think only an adult can understand the depth that went into bringing these characters into immortality.

Scott writes in a very beautiful way. He has a knack for pulling vivid descriptions out of his prose and surrounding the reader in them. Rather than feeling like a passive reader, I feel like I am drawn right into the story and am watching the action from *right there*. By the time I was halfway through "The Alchemyst"...I had already downloaded book two, "The Magician". (and I have the rest of the books on hold through my library - though if they don't hurry up and become available, I'll be buying "The Sorceress" shortly)

I likely won't review the other books in the series, but I am confident in saying that this is a SERIES worth reading. I know that I'll be devouring these books for at least a couple more weeks and that there maybe a few kids with summer birthdays who will be receiving them as gifts from us!

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