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Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel
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The Alchemy of Forever: An Incarnation Novel

The Alchemy of Forever: An Incarnation Novel - Avery Williams THE ALCHEMY OF FOREVER, a 2012 debut by Avery Williams, promises the mix of immortality with the drama of teenage discovery. I didn’t know what to expect diving into this otherwise, except for the fact that at 256 pages, it was going to be a quick read. Sadly, quick read is pretty much one of the few things this story has going for it. The plot flows quickly with good writing (at times just a tad clunky) and the pacing is smooth, but things go downhill quickly from there.The story of Seraphina Ames, a girl who died in the middle ages before being brought back to life as a body-hopping incarnate thanks to the drop of a tonic on her tongue, THE ALCHEMY OF FOREVER takes place in current day San Francisco and its surrounds. Sera, tired of her existence as the subservient love of the group’s leader, has decided to die, but after witnessing a car crash, she accidentally takes over the body of 16 year old Kailey and is forced to take over the girl’s life while hiding from the evil Cyrus.Let’s start with the good. The boy next door Noah was a good love interest – he was the type I strive to see more of in YA, meaning kind, respectful, and observant. I really enjoyed him and his dedication to the girl who has suddenly given him the time of day now that the original inhabitant of his neighbor Kailey’s body is gone. Likewise, the plot is strong and unique, a good take on immortality. While I wish more of this had been explored, Williams did a good job of showing us the set up of this world of alchemy.But there was also plenty of not-so-good stuff. Sera was a 600+ year old woman in a constantly changing body. She hasn’t even taken a teenage form since her death. Her relationship with Noah, definitely a teenager, is rather creepy. She never acts like a teenager, she never thinks like a teenager, and she probably should not be dating a teenager. She also is rather dumb, giving CPR to a dying teen knowing that she could enter her body by accident while her own body is breaking down.Over the course of the novel, Sera experiences little character growth other than flip-flopping constantly. She is whiny, mopey, and spends the majority of the story lamenting her life and the people she hurts instead of actually doing something about it. Her characterization was one of the worst things about the story. And talk about a non-ending! The book just ends in the middle of a scene basically. I won’t spoil things, but the ending was really a letdown, especially when the twist is predictable. THE ALCHEMY OF FOREVER seemed a little short, like the book was chopped up by an editor wanting to stretch one book into a trilogy. This is a book that might have been better being aimed at adults instead of teens considering the subject matter – it would have eliminated squicky factor of a really old woman dating a teen. Oh, and that cover looks NOTHING like the character described in the book – in any of her forms. I really, really hate when that happens.VERDICT: With a unique plot and interesting premise, THE ALCHEMY OF FOREVER had so much going for it – until it was squandered on a bad heroine and a creepy romance. Unofficial review: Sera, girl, we need to have a discussion about your choices in life. Please get a sassy gay friend in book two or else you'll just continue to be stupid.2.5/5