The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

 
Myth-based, modernized fantasy is nonstop fun.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Many mythologies come together for this story -- Greek, Norse, Egyptian, etc. Plus some historical figures are made immortal and their lives and historical impact are discussed.

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence

Much fantasy violence and deaths, no gore.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Numerous products mentioned as part of normal life: video games, movies, electronics, TV shows, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, despite the almost nonstop action and fantasy violence, there is very little real violence, gore, or anything realistic.

What's the story?

Teen twins Josh and Sophie discover, in a rather explosive way, that the San Francisco bookstore owner Josh works for is really Nicholas Flamel, a nearly 700-year-old alchemist who created the Philosopher's Stone, from which he and his wife Perenelle get the Elixir of Life. Their enemy is Dr. John Dee, who works for the Dark Elders, members of the Elder Race who are the source of most of humanity's ancient myths and legends. The Dark Elders want to reinstate their dominion over the Earth.

Dee kidnaps Perenelle and steals the Codex, an ancient book containing the secrets of magic, and a prophecy involving twins. But Josh accidentally ends up with the final two pages, and now Dee and his masters and minions are out to reclaim the pages, and enlist or kill the twins. As they race across the West Coast, members of the Elder Race begin lining up on both sides.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Harry Potter fans will recognize the name Nicholas Flamel, and may be surprised to learn that J.K. Rowling didn't make him up. Irish author and mythology expert Michael Scott has taken elements from Flamel's legend, woven them together with myths and stories from around the world, and set the whole thing in modern-day California. The result is a slam-bang, fantasy-adventure, with enough action to keep the most rabid genre fans happy, and enough references to ancient stories to keep the mind working as well.

Though the good-vs.-evil and kids-with-secret-powers themes may be well worn by now, nothing about this story -- from its setting and characters to its intricate use of myth to create an alternative history of earth -- is typical. Though an appendix with references for all the characters and places mentioned in the story would have been welcome, this book, the first of a planned series, is plain old-fashioned fun, with an intellectual gloss that will give fans something to look into while waiting for the next in the series.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the world-wide mythology behind the story and how allusions to Flamel compare to mentions of him in the Harry Potter books. Kids might also be interested in reading more about the myths the author uses, and the ways in which he has tried to make sense of the legendary past. If the gods of the ancient world lived today, how might they appear to human beings? What would you do if you were immortal? Are the powers Sophie gains worth the pain?

Book details

Author:Michael Scott
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Delacorte Press
Publication date:May 22, 2007
Number of pages:384
Read aloud:10
Read alone:11

This review of The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old April 19, 2011
age 17+
 

What the...

This book is downright confusing! I can't get this stuff! Why does it deserve Rebecca Caudill Award???? This goes for this book and all the others in the series.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byAlathariel December 11, 2011
age 18+
 

The Philosopher's Stone couldn't save this book.

I don't understand why this book has been given such good reviews. It's EXTREMELY derivative, boring and unsophisticated. The author appears to have NO IDEA how young people talk to each other, what they like, how they feel. Also, every single kind of magic and myth in this book seems to be real - aura magic, ancient Egypt, monsters, ancient Greece, Celtic magic, talking to ghosts, magical items, elemental magic...I'm sure I'm missing a lot, because it's got everything. The characters, even the ones from history, are weak and boring. Every feeling, concept, idea is explained a hundred times each, leaving no room for anything interesting. Seriously, don't compare this book to classics or greats -- it's horrible. Go read something else. If you're young, read the Fablehaven series. A bit older, go for the Hunger Games if you haven't already.
Kid, 11 years old April 7, 2011
age 9+
 

One of the Best

This book is Great! Plus it's base is ture. This might even be the next Harry Potter!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages

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