Saturday, September 1, 2012

Review: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation, #1)
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Seraphina has been alive since the 1300's, made immortal when the boy she was beginning to love back then, Cyrus, saved her from death with a strange liquid - a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. But now, in modern day America, Sera has decided that she can no longer bear the weight of stealing people's lives so she can keep living on. So she decides to run away from Cyrus and end her stolen existence once and for all. Her plan goes awry when she accidentally takes the body of a dying teenager and feels forced to take over her life. When the lines between Sera and Kailey's identity begin to blur, Sera finds a reason to desire to live once more. But she can't shake the guilt of having taken Kailey's life, even if she was dying. And what if Cyrus finds her?

(provided by GoodReads) 
Ugh... this has been the hardest review to write so far. I guess that's not saying much since this is review #6 -- but whatever. I think this will have been the hardest review I will do for awhile. Why is this review so difficult, you ask? Because the whole story felt rather... blah. 

Alchemy is a theme not seen in YA very often, which is why I was rather excited for this book. Upon receiving The Alchemy of Forever, I was most surprised by it's size (or lack thereof). At a mere 256 pages, it's almost half the length of the average YA novel. That can be a good thing - a book you can read within a single afternoon is kind of nice sometimes. However, noting the length (or lack thereof) can also foreshadow complications, such as lack of depth of characters and the world not being fleshed out adequately.

Character development is not where the book suffers. Even with the wide range of characters, you still get to know each fairly well. But fairly well wasn't good enough for me; I wanted to know them more, especially the coven members. I think the potential of this story is a little wasted since there was very little exploration of Cyrus' character and alchemy itself.

Considering this story is supposed to be about alchemy, there is very little alchemy in it. The setting is set in modern day San Francisco (with no alchemy highlights), then travels across the bay to Berkley (also with no alchemy). While in Berkley, the character bounces from home to classroom to cafeteria to art show to downtown. Point is, more could have been done with the setting. This could have been done by either elaborated more (thus creating a longer novel) or focusing more on specific places that would hold more meaning for the character. The only reason these felt like real places is because they actually are real places.

If anything, this book suffers from being too short. That, combined with the overall somber tone, and the story just fell flat for me. It was enjoyable, but blah.

Final Thought: blah out of blah toadstools

Review also available on GoodReads

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