Review: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams


The Alchemy of Forever
Avery Williams
Series: Incarnation, #1
Release Date: January 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Number of Pages: 256
Rating: 3 stars
Word Rating: Fascinating

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In the first novel of the Incarnation series, the immortal Seraphina grapples with a wrenching truth: Falling in love might mean succumbing to death. People say “love never dies”…but love might be the death of Seraphina.

Seraphina has been alive since the Middle Ages, when her boyfriend, Cyrus, managed to perfect a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. Sera ran away from Cyrus years ago, when she realized that what they were doing—taking the lives of innocent people—was wrong. Yet she doesn’t want to die, so she finds young people who are on the brink of death, and inhabits their bodies.

Sera has just landed in the body of a girl named Kailey who was about to die in a car accident. For the first time, Sera falls in love with the life of the person she’s inhabiting. Sera also falls for the boy next door, Noah. And soon it’s clear the feelings are returned. But she can never kiss Noah, because for her to touch lips with a human would mean the human’s death. And she has even more to worry about: Cyrus is chasing her. If she stays in one place for long, she puts herself—and the people she’s grown to care for—in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?

Providing readers with a thoroughly interesting and unique perspective on incarnation, Avery Williams has great promise to offer with her Incarnation series, a good portion of which is executed in The Alchemy of Forever. Williams' take on the thought-provoking concept of incarnation is certainly a refreshing and alluring one, touching less on religion and life after death, as I had initially expected, and more on science, which I found to be exceptionally original and fascinating.

The characters in The Alchemy of Forever, however, I feel were not met with that same interesting and fascinating quality as the plot. While the characters that were supposed to be likable are entirely likable, and the characters that aren't supposed to be likable are deliciously sinister, whether a character in The Alchemy of Forever was likable or not was some of the most insight we got into the characters, in my opinion. When I'm reading a novel, I try to connect to the characters as much as possible, but if I feel I don't know much about any of the characters, I find that pretty difficult to do. While I was entirely connected to the plot and what was occurring throughout the novel, with the exception of a rough patch in pacing around the halfway mark, I wasn't emotionally connected to most if any of the characters, and due to that, many of the events in The Alchemy of Forever didn't bear the amount of impact I'm sure Avery Williams had expected them to.

I do like the characters in this novel; I really like Sera, although I would have liked to see more depth and growth from her character, and I really like Noah, the love interest. But these characters are met with little development when separated from each other, that, while I care about what happens in their relationship, I can't muster up the same amount of attachment when concerning each of the characters when they're on their own. With a highly original concept, a strong writing style that reads briskly, and an even stronger central villain that is as nefarious as he is utterly captivating to read about, The Alchemy of Forever had a lot going for it, but the incredibly short page count got in the way of providing the protagonists with depth, and that is undoubtedly this novel's biggest downfall. Hopefully there will be more character development (and more villain appearances) in the next addition in the Incarnation trilogy, which I look forward to reading. 

9 comments :

  1. I bought this when it first came out and have yet to read it. I hate that they changed the covers too!! I liked the original, and now if I get the rest of them they won't match! I'm glad that you liked this. I hope that there is better character development in the next one.

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    1. Ugh, yes. I hate mid-series cover changes, and this cover change wasn't particularly for the better, unfortunately. And there wasn't better character development in the second. I twas definitely a bitter disappointment.

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  2. I remember picking up a copy of this a while ago at my local used bookstore, and I haven't touched it since! I think I'll be picking it up soon, though, because even though there was a lack of depth in this one, I am really intrigued by this concept. I, like you, made the assumption that the incarnation thing would be based off of more religious things, so it's neat to see that's not the case.

    Lovely review, Blythe! <3

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    1. I do hope you like it, Aneeqah! Will definitely be on the lookout for your thoughts.

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  3. This one was a surprising hit for me, too. I liked the reincarnation theme, especially without the religious overtones you would expect.

    The characters.. yeah. They need work. Especially Cyrus. Oi. Still, I had fun with this one and I am glad you did too!

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    1. Yeah, having the reincarnation concept sans the religion overtones was definitely quite refreshing. And all of the characters need work, seriously.

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  4. I think I have this one in e-book, and I know I've been wanting to read it for awhile. I think the premise just sounds too cool. The issue with the characters though sounds really frustrating. It's so hard to connect to characters you don't KNOW.

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    1. The issue with the characters is very frustrating, and it doesn't get much better even in the sequel. *sigh*

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  5. I remember enjoying this one, despite issues with the worldbuilding and not fully understanding Sera's motives. I know I also commented on the short length, thinking an extra hundred pages might have given it the depth it needed.

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