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The Alchemyst

The Alchemyst

by Michael Scott

Analysis: Writing Style

Simple, Fast-Paced, Sensory

The author's writing style is very fast-paced, descriptive (it is especially heavy on the sensory details—sights, sounds, scents, tastes, and feels), and simplistic, too.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

The language of The Alchemyst is all about getting the point across. Scott uses simple, short sentences to keep our feet under us in chaotic battles and frantic chases. We're focused on the action, not the words themselves. Of course you can check out just about any battle sequence for examples of these short, simple sentences, but they're not limited to those moments alone.

Check out this scene, when Sophie is trained by the Witch of Endor:

Images flickered. Flashed. She saw a tiny woman under a clear blue sky raise a hand and make a cloud grow directly overhead. Rain irrigated a parched field. Flashed again. A tall bearded man standing on the edge of the huge sea raised his hand and the howling wind parted the waters. And flashed again. (36.34-40)

The simple sentences and frequent fragments give us the facts, not fluff. We're riveted by the images, and can't wait for more.

When in Doubt, Google It

All these simple sentences propel the story forward quickly, making it a fast-paced page-turner. This novel really moves; so much happens in just two short days, with barely a nap in between for our heroes.

That means that mysteries are solved quickly, and we don't have to wait long to get the scoop on new characters. For example, our twins simply Google their new comrades and find out their entire history (8.36), and cell phones make phoning in requests for help a snap. Oh, and how could we forget that handy dandy GPS that shows them the way to Ojai?

Every step of the way, this novel combines the wonders of magic with the wonders of modern technology. It's clear the two go hand in hand.

Sensory Overload

The Alchemyst smells as sweet as spicy oranges and pomegranates, tastes like vanilla ice cream, and is filtered through beautiful salmon-colored light. Sensory overload? Hardly. The style of the novel is filled with pleasant sensory descriptions that make reading an absolute joy. For example, we really see, taste, and smell the action when the Ghost Wind arrives:

It howled across the bay, warm and exotic, smelling of cardamom and rose water, lime and tarragon, and then it raced along the length of the Golden Gate Bridge […] one moment the car was surrounded by birds; the next, they were gone, and the car was filled with the scents of the desert, of dry air and warm sand. (12.42)

We can hear the wind (it "howled"), feel its warmth ("warm and exotic"), and smell delicious pairings of spices and citrus, as well as the desert itself. Keep your eyes peeled, your ears open, and your nose ready for other awesome sights, sounds, and scents throughout the novel.

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