Friday, February 17, 2012
The Alchemy of Forever, by Avery Williams
Release date: January 3rd 2012
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars
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?
The cover for The Alchemy of Forever didn't exactly catch my eye as much as the title did. It's usually odd for this to happen - I'm a sucker when it comes to book covers - but the title was so interesting I had to check the synopsis out. I'm so glad I did it.
Avery Williams introduces us to Seraphina Ames, a girl whose past is full of death and stolen lives. She's Imortal, and in order to stay that way, she's always changing bodies, killing people in the process of occupation. It's inevitable, but it pains Seraphina to do so. Cyrus, the boy she was in love with back when she was human, was not at all how she thought. After turning Sera in an Imortal, he became a monster, willing to do anything to keep Sera at his side.
Sera's life is pretty much decided for the rest of her life, but an eternity of killing is not in her plans. She runs away from Cyrus, but an accident causes her to take over a teenage girl's body. And you can only imagine how a 600-year-old soul feels about this. At first, Sera is desperate to get rid of the body and go back to her original plan, which is basically to kill herself before she causes more damage.
And that's when the fun starts. The beginning of the book was somewhat slow, and what really kept me hooked was my fascination for Seraphina's condition. However, when Sera dives head-first into Kailey's life and body - no pun intended - she has to decide if killing herself is a wise decision after all. Kailey's family's love is something that gets to Sera rather quickly, since she had none of that, and it's fantastic how much she changes throughout the book.
Sera's characterization was really well done. Her actions reflected her personality perfectly, and there was a balance between her emotions and Imortal nature that got blurry at certain points. She felt human to me when she was with Noah the most, which is why I adored him that much more. He's the kind of boy that's nice to everybody, open and trustworthy especially with Sera.
To tell the truth, all the characters were solid and consistent, except, maybe, some of Kailey's friends, since Sera didn't keep in touch with them so often. But apart from them, Avery Williams proved to be an excellent writer. I was particularly fond of Kailey's family. I don't know if that's how most north American families behave with their kids, but to me, it felt very real, too.
Cyrus was a treat to me. Sure, I've read books in which the villains are so evil and twisted that it gave me the creeps, but Cyrus was different. Maybe because under the layers of indifference there was someone who once cared enough about Seraphina to make her Imortal. Maybe because he calculates his moves so thoroughly I felt like I was being played with most of the time. Or maybe because he's just scary, period. Whatever it is, it heightened my fears for Sera.
The Alchemy of Forever really is interesting. Cyrus and Sera were intense, but I felt refreshed and rested after I finished reading. The writing is full of emotions and a little poetic, fitting the story just right. Overall, an enchanting book. If you want a break from the usual books you're used to reading, this may be a good choice.