Seraphina has been alive since the 1300's, made immortal when the boy she was beginning to love back then, Cyrus, saved her from death with a strange liquid - a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. But now, in modern day America, Sera has decided that she can no longer bear the weight of stealing people's lives so she can keep living on. So she decides to run away from Cyrus and end her stolen existence once and for all. Her plan goes awry when she accidentally takes the body of a dying teenager and feels forced to take over her life. When the lines between Sera and Kailey's identity begin to blur, Sera finds a reason to desire to live once more. But she can't shake the guilt of having taken Kailey's life, even if she was dying. And what if Cyrus finds her?
|The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams|
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The scariest thing about Incarnates is that we look just like everyone else.
Another YA with a brilliant premise that doesn't quite deliver, The Alchemy of Forever is bad when it could have easily been epic.
Sera is an immortal (or Incarnate, like they're called in this one) who has to steal other people's souls to take over their bodies as her's dies after about every 10 years. Cyrus is the one who turned her and her love for him died out a long time ago. Sera's decided that her current body will be her last, and she'd rather die than steal another soul. When the time to die comes though, her resolve weakens and she ends up in the body of Kailey Morgan.
All that makes this out to be the next great book since Angelfall or something. Unfortunately, all the awesomeness is simply hinted at, rather than being analyzed and explained. I had a number of issues with this book, made all the more irritating because of how effortlessly they could have been amended, had the author chosen to make this just a slightly longer book.
Even after reading The Alchemy of Forever, I still don't know anything about Sera's character that I didn't gather from the synopsis. This book is so annoyingly brief and abrupt, we don't get the chance to look at anything extensively. Not at the true origin of the Incarnates, not at Cyrus, not at Sera, and certainly not at Noah and Kailey.
Basically, we never get the chance to truly get to know the characters. Ergo, I didn't feel a thing for any of them, so even when The Shocking Thing at the end occurred, I was only mildly curious about what would happen next. Sure, I'd like to know what really went down that night, but I won't have any nightmares if I never find out. If only the author had taken a few chapters to get us better acquainted with Sera and who she is by herself, when she's not imitating the life she's taken, the book would have been a million times better and I wouldn't be so indifferent to her fate.
Williams also skimmed over scenes I would have really liked to read. The readers's simply told they happened and we're left to fill in the blanks. How does the relationship between Noah and Sera, Leyla and Sera, everyone and Sera develop? They don't notice anything odd in her behavior? Do they like Sera or is it just Kailey they're seeing in her? Sera goes from being suicidal to lively and from being ready to flee to loving her new life in seconds, and the sudden development isn't portrayed or conveyed that well at all.
Overall, The Alchemy of Forever represents an interesting and new concept, but that potential is never truly explored. I look forward to finding out what happens next, but this one most definitely did not leave an impact.
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