Book Review: The Alchemyst

November 14, 2011


As much mentioned in the last post, my sister has introduced me to various titles. Last year, I received three books in total from her as presents. Today, I will be posting a review of one of those three, called The Alchemyst.

This book about fraternal twins, Sophie and Josh Newman, who get caught up in a situation in which myth mixes in with our world. Unlike others that have done the same, this mixes creatures and entities from more than just one mythology. There is Odin, of Norse myth, Bastet, of Egyptian myth, and various others. Many of those entities seek to destroy the world and only the famous Nicholas Flamel and the twins, with a few other allies, stand in their way.

The book did seem pretty interesting and had a ton of action. I like how the author made an interesting backdrop to the story to explain why the resting place of Nicholas Flamel was empty, as well as the great fire of London. They were not accurate, but that should not matter, as this is fiction, which is supposed to entertain, not be accurate. In addition to having explanations that made things interesting, I really liked how the main characters were very skeptical. Many protagonists in fantasy stories, such as this, practically go around believing almost everything. However, it makes sense that they are skeptical, as they are pretty much in the about mid teen years of their lives. It is also around this time in life that people start to lose their imagination and start believing 100% in science and logic. However, they do come to accept things as reality, much like we all do, when we get used to the impossible happening every day. The book did a good job in having interesting, yet fictional, explanations for historical events and also having characters are that skeptical of things.

Not much bad can be said about this book that is going to take this down a whole lot, if at all, but it certainly was quite annoying. First, I hate how the author keeps misspelling alchemist. There have been issues with titles of various shows and such (e.g. Detective Conan is called Case Closed in the United States due to issues with the name Conan), but alchemist is a term that cannot be trademarked or copyrighted. The reason for this is simple. We can use the term god or the names of gods in stories because they have been around since times of antiquity. Likewise, the art of alchemy, though it is technically a pseudo science, has been around since medieval times. This does not take down the work by any means, but it is an annoyance. The second thing that seemed to annoy me a bit is the third person omniscient point-of-view. I do not doubt that this point-of-view suited the story the best, with as many perspectives as we get, but there was too much switching back and forth in the middle of every chapter. I did not feel like I wanted to know every little detail that the enemy was planning, as the story was supposed to focus on the twins and the Flamels, not really anybody else. Again, these are just minor annoyances, but if you want me to pick the biggest problem with this book, I would say third person omniscient point-of-view does not help when perspectives change in the middle of chapters, instead of only at the beginning of chapters.

Despite the fact that perspectives change too much under a third person omniscient point-of-view, the book held my interest a bit. I would definitely recommend this to fans of various mythologies and fantasy. If you are a fan of Hiromu Arakawa's Fullmetal Alchemist or are looking at this title out of interest in alchemy, I recommend you skip this book, as well as the rest of the series, since there is absolutely no alchemy featured in the story, only the mention of the Philosopher's Stone and Homunculi.

What is your opinion of this book? Did I get anything wrong? Feel free to comment.

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