This is the first in a six book series by Irish author Michael Scott. A movie version also seems to be in production. When swinging over to Amazon to check out the ratings, I was satisfied with the high marks from over one hundred reviews, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
In the modern world, Twin siblings, Sophie and Josh Newman (teenagers) work across the street from one other. One day Sophie notices shady looking characters entering the bookstore where her brother works. Among these characters is the underhanded John Dee, whose goal is to capture the owners of the bookstore along with a book that is definitely not for sale on their shelves.
This book is called the Codex, which unlocks many of the world’s mysteries, including the secret to immortality. The owners of the bookstore are Nicholas Flamel and his wife, Perenelle (who both happen to be immortal, and very old). Dee manages to capture Perenelle and the Codex, but in the process Nicholas escapes with Josh and his sister Sophie. It seems as if all is lost, but then Nicholas learns that—during a struggle—Josh ripped out some of the pages in the book; making the important parts useless.
Once Dee discovers this, he pursues Nicholas, Sophie, and Josh to recover the missing pages. Why? Dee seems to be the representative of an ancient race called the Dark Elders, whose mission is to recapture the world from the humans, and somehow they need the book to do this. Nicholas, however, has other plans as he is convinced that these twins are part of an ancient prophecy. With the help of Scathach (a vegetarian vampire (yes, really . . .), and second generation Elder Race), the team goes on an adventure of discovery and retreat.
OK, so I know this book sounds good. The ratings say it is good. But I had a hard time staying interested. Why? (1) The use of Third Person Multiple Points of View and Omniscient Point of View is jarring and disjointing. I feel as if the author was trying to get into too many heads. And really, I didn’t care about John Dee; he was the bad guy, why did I always need to know his perspective? (2) It seemed to me as if there was too much needless information. There were a few times where I yelled, “I get it, you don’t need to explain it any further!” Also, the actions of the characters mostly spoke for themselves, yet the author was always describing them, he described . . . everything. (3) Too much needless back story. A lot of it didn’t seem to matter in the forward plot movement. So, my conclusion? I didn’t like the writing style all that much. And the story itself didn’t pull me in. But, that said, others did like it, so I suggest you see for yourself.
Things to consider:
There is mention of an old earth, as the Elders lived many years before man. Apparently men came from the apes and messed everything up. I know this is fantasy, but it does take place in the “real world” and more than subtly promotes the idea of evolution. That, and it highly promotes the modern idea that power comes from within each individual. These and other things mentioned in the story leads me to wonder if the author’s beliefs reside around the modern Humanist Manifesto. (Such as: “Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.” And that the universe is self-existing not created.) Just something to keep in mind. There’s no real inappropriate language or sexual situations, and the violence level is fitting for this type of tale (and audience). The audience? Boys and girls, probably around their early teens.
Opportunities for discussion:
Speaking of the Humanist Manifesto, if you are a person of faith and you are unfamiliar with this movement, then I strongly suggest that both you and your teen become familiar with it. In a lot of ways this has become the new “modern religion.” You can read a copy of it at americanhumanist.org . Obviously, this movement is pretty anti-Christian, but I believe we should take the time to try and understand other perspectives so that we can better present the truths we ourselves have discovered.