Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Nicholas Flamel Series

Jack recommended this series to me awhile back. I decided to buy the books and read the first three earlier this year. The fourth book, The Necromancer, was published at the end of May. I promptly began reading it as soon as I finished the Linda Carlton series.

I enjoyed The Necromancer the most of the four books. With the Flamel series, I feel like the books are getting better and better. This is exactly as it should be. As the Harry Potter series neared its end, the books did not seem to be as good as the earlier ones. I was disappointed with the last three Harry Potter books.

I am in a quandary as to how to explain what the Nicholas Flamel series is about without spoiling too much of the plot. Here goes...

Sophie and Josh Newman are 15 1/2 year old twins who are spending the summer in San Francisco while their parents are off on an archaeological dig. Josh works in an antiquarian book store, and Sophie works in a coffee shop.

One day a man named John Dee arrives at the book store and confronts the owner, Nick Fleming. Both men use magic, which Josh witnesses, and the book store is destroyed. Nick's wife, Perry, is kidnapped. Josh and Sophie's world is turned upside down, and they end up on the run with Nick Fleming.

The Newman twins soon learn that Nick Fleming is the historical figure, Nicholas Flamel, who has become immortal through a spell found in the Codex. John Dee, who is also immortal, stole the Codex from Flamel, but the last two pages were accidentally ripped from the book during the fight.

Flamel informs the twins that they are the legendary twins of silver and gold auras, and that John Dee will have realized this fact and will now be hunting them. The legendary twins have the power to save or destroy the world.

John Dee wants to bring the Dark Elder Gods back to the earth and restore it as it was in ancient times. If this happens, then humans will cease to exist. So, what we have is a battle of good versus evil with the twins thrown in the middle.

In these books, all of the mythological figures from past religions are real and exist in various Shadowrealms. Some of them live in the human world alongside humans. Not only that, but quite a few historical figures, such as Joan of Arc, have attained immortality and are introduced to the story along the way.

At times, the information overload is a bit much, and the reader has trouble absorbing all that occurs. This becomes easier for the reader as the series progresses.

Both Sophie and Josh are not certain whether they can completely trust the Flamels, and John Dee plays into this by manipulating Josh. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Sophie may lose Josh to the forces of evil and may end up fighting on the opposite side as her twin.

Each book has ended in a cliffhanger, and the fourth book has a doozy of one. I wish I could read the next book right now, but I'm going to have to wait a year. This is a very interesting series.


stratomiker said...

These ubiquitous paranormal epics are boring the heck out of me. The same end-of-times story keeps getting written over and over again. I feel sorry for young people who would like to read about normal young people - even the few of those being produced are now filled with divorce, addiction, and numerous dysfunctional themes. Nothing is just normal and fun anymore.

One can see at the book store that the books all look the same and read the same. Vampires, werewolves, wizards, witches, monsters - blech! In creating new genres where you can have nasty villains that aren't human, and thus not having to worry about being politically correct, publishers have gone off the deep end and flooded the shelves with trite copycat adventures that make Harriet Adams seem like a Harper Lee.

One can easily see, and people who work in publishing will tell you, that paranormal has hit its peak and the business is floundering as it looks for new direction.

Where is it going to head now? It will be interesting to see what it morphs into. Will they actually start writing books again about young people who aren't dead? Aren't some kind of paranormal freaks upon whom the entire future of the universe depends? (ho-hum) Maybe just normal kids having a good time?

It's amazing how overdone popular themes get; then they start to be annoying. Maybe that's what happened to the teen detective? It'd be nice to go into the young adult section and not have to see all those dead people and other wackos on all the covers! The YA section at Borders now appears to be a funeral parlor all set up for a group wake.

I am all for real young people having realistic adventures. I wonder if that will ever be popular again in publishing?


Jennifer White said...

There are so many of these series that it is very hard to tell which ones are actually worth reading. You might recall that a couple of months ago, I spent a good deal of time in the book stores writing down the names of the series that actually might be interesting to me. Most of them do not sound interesting at all. They all seem to blend together.

It seems that anything with vampires a la Twilight is the most prominent.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the best I can figure is that this all started with Christopher Pike. Back in the early to mid-1980s as a young teenager, I quit reading Nancy Drew books and progressed to Sweet Valley High. As Sweet Valley High began to bore me, I progressed to Christopher Pike, who only had around two to three books published when I began reading them.

I loved the Pike books because they were so different. The first few had little fantasy, but as the years passed, Pike became centered in on vampires and supernatural events. Around that time, the Fear Street and Goosebumps books got started.

I gradually lost interest in Pike because he got a bit too far into the supernatural and the books began to have a sameness about them. Shortly after, I went full circle back to Nancy Drew and began collecting series books at the age of 19.

I like the Nicholas Flamel books because they are a bit different from anything that I have ever read. I don't know how they compare to the other 999 supernatural series out there. I certainly couldn't stomach reading all of them.

You will be pleased to know that I am currently devouring the Ken Holt books. You and others have raved about them for years, but it was not until the last few months that I bothered to build a set.

beautifulshell said...

I just have to say that I loooooooooved Christopher Pike in the early 90s. So bad, so enjoyable! Sometimes it's nice to indulge in books like that, especially as a teenager when most assigned reading in school is *so dry*. I can't say I blame kids for wanting to read about lusty vampires when they have to wade through some of the stuff I had to, as much as I might appreciate it now as an adult.

Brandi said...

I have to admit, not only did I enjoy reading Christopher Pike, but I enjoyed R.L. Stine too. As a matter of fact, I have to say that I still have The Fear Street books and most of Christopher Pikes books to this day. I haven't read one in quite some time, but they are very dear to me because I associate them with my teen years. I'll probably keep them forever!

stratomiker said...

It was a concerted effort in the industry to move into YA paranormal in a big way after the Hardy/Drews had to be rewritten to clean them of nasty stereotypes and naughty human villains. Everyone was afraid to publish books with any human who was a meanie.

Probably the biggest influence in today's totally flooded market was Buffy, TV show and books. The big surprise was that it caught on so big in Adult Romance. That was not expected. Now far more than half of the best selling ones are about hot lusty romance with some kind of dead dude. It's totally absurd. Sex with dead people is now what young readers have to look forward to after they grow out of Twilight.

There have always been the paranormal books, but never so much of it, and now it's suddenly getting stale and trite and everyone is wondering what happens next - where does it go from here? So, this is actually a very interesting time for both YA and Adult fiction.

Publishers, agents, and writers are all uncertain in which direction to go. Paranormal still seems to be the big thing, but everyone knows the gag reflex has set in and that soon we'll all be sick of it. But something will come of it, and those who ride in on it will be the headliners.

Good for you, Jennifer, reading Ken Holt. Now talk about a really well-written series. It can't be beat. And, by the way, many male fans consider Connie Blair to be 'the girl Ken Holt', comparable and as exciting. If you collect The Mystery and Adventure Series Review fanzines, you will find several very good in-depth articles about Ken and Connie.


Jennifer White said...

I remember people calling Connie Blair the "Ken Holt of girls' series." I have been thinking about that as I have read the first few Ken Holts. I feel like if Ken's name were changed to Connie and with some other necessary changes, that these books would read well as Connie Blair books. So, for anyone wondering about the Ken Holt series, it is a lot like Connie Blair, and Connie Blair is very good.

I have a number of the old Mystery and Adventure Series Review issues, and I will have to pull them out to read any articles about Ken Holt. I'll also have to pull out Yellowback Library and see if I have any in them.

I still have my Christopher Pike and Sweet Valley High books as well, and I read them again sometime in the last five or six years ago. I still enjoy them, and nostalgia is a big factor.

I have also wondered where the young adult genre will go from here. I am going to sample one or two other series sometime in the near future once I figure out which ones. I don't want to waste my time on something that I won't enjoy very much. I'm not interested in sex with dead people. I agree that it is stupid. I also decided against a certain series when I learned that it involved sacrificing cats. Um, no, I have them as pets and don't care to read stuff like that.