Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on January 3rd 2012
In the first novel of the Incarnation series, the immortal Seraphina grapples with a wrenching truth: Falling in love might mean succumbing to death.People say “love never dies”…but love might be the death of Seraphina.
Seraphina has been alive since the Middle Ages, when her boyfriend, Cyrus, managed to perfect a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. Sera ran away from Cyrus years ago, when she realized that what they were doing—taking the lives of innocent people—was wrong. Yet she doesn’t want to die, so she finds young people who are on the brink of death, and inhabits their bodies.
Sera has just landed in the body of a girl named Kailey who was about to die in a car accident. For the first time, Sera falls in love with the life of the person she’s inhabiting. Sera also falls for the boy next door, Noah. And soon it’s clear the feelings are returned. But she can never kiss Noah, because for her to touch lips with a human would mean the human’s death. And she has even more to worry about: Cyrus is chasing her. If she stays in one place for long, she puts herself—and the people she’s grown to care for—in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?
If you could live forever with just one stipulation, would you? What if that stipulation was the death of a person, would you feel that it was worth it? Could you live with yourself knowing you sacrificed someone else for your own ability to live longer?
As an incarnate, one who has the ability to detach a soul from a body and then jump into said body, Seraphina has had to struggle with this decision for over 600 years. In the year 1349, after a brute attack by two drunks, 14 year old Sera is left bleeding to death in the arms of her crush and admirer, Cyrus, the apothecary’s son. By the miraculous powers of a alchemist potion brewed by Cyrus himself, Sera awakes in the body of one of her would-be attackers. In that moment Sera makes the decision to pledge herself to Cyrus by running away and living out their immortal life together and in love.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and you’ve got quite a different story. After 600+ years of taking human lives, (turns out about every 10 years at the latest an incarnate needs to hop into a new body) Sera is fed up. After taking many lives and succumbing to the sadistic, cruel and obsessive loving tendencies of Cyrus, Sera devises a plan to break away. Although she originally decides to truly die, in a bizarre twist of fate, Sera accidentally ends up in the dying body of a teenage girl. Breaking away from Cyrus and the “coven” (group of other incarnates) was the hardest thing Sera has had to do, that is, until now. In her new body, surrounded by a loving family, friends and a potential new romance, Sera struggles with ending her existence. After centuries of wishing she was dead, Sera’s now realizing that there’s so much to live for.
The Alchemy of Forever completely blew me away. The synopsis sold me instantly. Who hasn’t wished they could live forever? Or even, who hasn’t wished they could be someone else?
I loved Sera SO much. Out of all the incarnates she is truly the most caring and thoughtful one of the bunch. The others could care less when it comes to body switching, a past time they do quite frequently although it means taking the life of another. After witnessing the cruelness both the world and Cyrus has to offer, Sera has remained remarkably staunch. Although she at first appears fragile, deep down her will is incredibly strong. I found Cyrus to be downright tragic. I don’t doubt that he once sweetly and purely loved Sera, but through the years he has become twisted and power-hungry. He’s the leader of the incarnates, controlling who does what and when. He especially controls everything that goes on in Sera’s life right down to the new body she’s forced to take every 10 years.
I was so incredibly happy for Sera when Noah enters her life, well, Kailey’s life. As a kind-of friend and lifetime next door neighbor, Kailey Morgan never really gave Noah a second glance. However this all changes once Sera becomes Kailey. She recognizes the goodness in Noah and is completely enraptured by his sweet-natured ways. The romance between these two is innocent and warm and completely unlike anything Sera has experienced before.
I give The Alchemy of Forever 5 stars because it is one of those incredible books that still sticks in your mind days after you read it. Williams is a fabulous writer, able to weave a story full of originality and fill it with vivacious characters.