Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Apothecary

The Apothecary
By Maile Meloy
Art by Ian Schoenherr
Published Date: October 4th, 2011
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
362 Pages
Book One in the Apothecary Series

It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows—a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies—Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.

Because I have been watching Fullmetal Alchemist I have been trying to find some good books that include alchemy. So I picked up the Apothecary which said included some alchemical like action. After reading it found that the book was geared towards younger readers. The story also takes place around the cold war and the races to build atomic bombs. Other than that there was really no historical element that I found. I would say the alchemical magic was interesting and was the only thing that kept me interested.

Janie came off to me as a very generic character. I categorized her in loyal, nice, and curious which can be good traits, but they were not written well. She had no deeper level and the most emotion that I got from her was that she missed home and her parents. Being an American in London she felt like she did stick out when she first went to school and besides turning into an American robin it was she forgot all about it. She just had no depth, and that made her really boring. 

Benjamin was a better character. He was funny, daring, and always had something up his sleeve. He was less boring than Janie though still not that good. Always wanting to be a spy came off as a childish dream, but he did more then just a nosey three year old. Still he was not that good. He lacked a lot of depth, but his character traits were more interesting. 

The plot was not the best. It was a little too dry. Sometimes it moved to fast and left some parts unexplained and other times it was too slow and needed something to move it along. One of the most intriguing things about it was it’s alchemy. Turning people into salt then returning them back into human was a good element. There were other parts that seemed to forced though. The major one was school. Yes, we know they are students and that they still need to go to school and skipping school would be a bad example, but when you are being hunted down by the government and your dad is missing or dead school does not seem like a top priority. Characters also seemed forced in their as well. One character came in as a teacher, but then he turned into a spy. That particular transition was really rough and had back ground, but could have gone a lot smoother. 

Like I said in the beginning, the book is geared towards younger readers. I would not recommend it to any big young adult readers, but I would recommend it to younger children or people who like children’s books. 

Hope you keep reading!


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