Monday, January 23, 2012

Review - The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

Series: Incarnation #1
By: Avery Williams
hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

After spending six hundred years on Earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world's riches but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago, her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to take the bodies of other humans from jumping from one vessel to the next, ending the human's life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she's done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body while trying to save her. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she's inhabiting - and falling in love with the boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she's his again, and every moment she stays, she's putting herself and the people she's grown to care about in danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that's eluded her for centuries: true love?


Story - Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Ending: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 15/25 = 3 Cupcakes



WHY I WANTED THIS BOOK: I featured this book as a WoW pick awhile back because I love stories about past lives and reincarnation. The premise seemed unique and promising and it's a debut title for Williams, which is pretty cool too, since I enjoy supporting new authors. I also liked the cover and I actually really liked the title too.

Story - Plot: The plot is a combination of original and not so original. I kept comparing it in my mind to Immortal Beloved which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's not such a great thing either. The one thing that was good and worked to the story's advantage is that it does seem that Williams spent a good deal of time plotting out her Incarnates. There didn't seem to be any loose ends which was a very good thing because it didn't leave a lot of What If's. 

Characters: The characters were okay. Being that the book was so short we didn't have too much time to truly get to know them in depth. Certain characters it was okay to get a surface knowledge of, but for the characters that were the main bulk of the story, namely Seraphina-slash-Kailey and Cyrus, a lot more of an in-depth relationship into their characters would've - in my opinion - upped my rating. 

Writing: There's nothing really memorable about Williams' writing. I feel like I continue using this saying, it was neither bad nor good. It was mediocre. I was very surprised to see the book boasting only 256 pages because typically with books I say a lot could have been left out and the book would've been fine if it were shorter, but in the case of Alchemy, I don't think shorter was better. Williams flies through the first scene of the book where Cyrus makes Seraphina immortal, so we don't get much into their back story other than they made googly eyes at one another and Cyrus wanted to ask Sera's father to marry her, or court her, or whatever. Then, bam! Chapter two throws us 600-years into the future where Cyrus is obsessively, dangerously in love with Seraphina and well, she'd rather die than deal with him anymore.

Another flaw - and I use the term loosely because it really didn't ruin or detract from the story - is the predictability of events. I kind of already knew how it would end after the first oh, five chapters, give or take. That's bad. But like I said, it didn't take away from the good parts of the book since I did give it 3 cupcakes and I did finish it in less than 24-hours obviously there was something that engaged me.

Ending: As stated above, very predictable and a mediocre cliff-hanger, setting up the sequel which is due out January 2013. I didn't have that immediate craving for more. 

Cover: I really liked the cover for this one. The dark shades used, and the "Echo" repeat of Seraphina on the cover reminds me of the different "lives" she's lived. 

Hopes for Book 2: I think Williams can really save the series if she goes back in time over the past 600-years that Cyrus and Seraphina were together. I truly believe that had she included even the tiniest, most minute of snippets of their past together, it could really have brought their characters to a whole new level. It was good getting to see Kailey and her family and their dynamics and interactions, but it will be nice if we get to see more of who Kailey was before she died. We get a decent picture of her character, but ultimately I think Sera should encounter more challenges at "playing" Kailey than she did in book #1.

Last Thoughts: Ultimately it wasn't the best book I've read that deals with reincarnation and past lives, but it was entertaining nonetheless. I'm glad I borrowed it from the library, however, and didn't shell out the bucks for it to sit on my bookshelf as the re-readability is pretty low.

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