Monday 22 April 2013

Book Review: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams (Incarnation #1)

Title: The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation Book 1)
Author: Avery Williams


Serephina has lived for centuries with her abusive boyfriend after he discovered the secret to detaching a soul from a body--by continually taking over another's body, they can live forever. But after an accident leaves the death-wishing Sera in the body of sixteen-year-old Kaliey, who has a few problems of her own. Serephina quickly finds herself falling in love with Noah, as close friend of Kaliey's. Serephina has to blend is in elude her boyfriend Cyrus, while dealing with her own problems. 


I can honestly say I loved this book. For the most part. I mean, on first impression, you get hit by the plot of the Host. A girl who gets transferred from body to body, living multiple lifetimes? But while the storyline of this book is similar to the plot of the Host, many of the supporting characters are vastly different. For example, Cyrus, Serephina's abusive, controlling boyfriend. He acts as the leader of their coven of immortals (or "Incarnates") and is fierce in his determination to keep the Incarnates together, to the point of ruthlessly murdering anyone who tries to leave the group. Serephina lived under his control for hundreds of years out of fear, but she finally wants out. That's how the story gets going. 

A major theme of this story is how time can change people. Just look at the Incarnates. Most of them (except for Sera) are ruthless 'killers', killing the humans to take their bodies (seriously this sounds like the Host) without any guilt. Worst of all is Cyrus. In the opening chapter, he is young and kind and filled with wonder, flirting with Serephina and trying to impress her with his alchemy. But when you see him in modern day, hundreds of years later, you could barely recognize him. He seems to have lost all his love for Serephina and keeps her around as a memory of his past. Another person who you can see major change in is Seraphina. She's young, naive and innocent in the beginning, crushing on Cyrus and having fun at a ball. But after hundreds of years, her internal commentary visibly changes, to a wearier tone. Without her saying it, you can tell how bored she is of life. 

But a large part of the problem I had with this book too was the characters. Many of them were undeveloped. Actually, all of them except Seraphina really were stagnant throughout the book. Some of them just seemed completely unnecessary. They might be developed more in future books, but the lack of involvement was just frustrating. We see little of her interaction with Kaliey's friends, and even her interaction with Noah seems shallow. Although from her internal commentary wer can understand what draws her to Noah, but it just wasn't developed. Cyrus isn't well explained either, even though you can see the changes in him. Overall the plot seemed a bit rushed--after all, it was a very short story. A lot more could be developed. I get the feeling from many characters that they're not telling us something. Even the minor characters who seemingly have no importance. I wonder if it's a lay up for the next book or just careless writing. Who knows? I'll give Avery Williams the benefit of the doubt here. 

Grade: B. Read it, but brace yourself for the next book.

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