Stones to Ashes (The Alchemists Academy #1)
Author: Kailin Gow
Genre: Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: January 7th, 2012
Wirt is used to being shuffled from foster home to foster home, adopting a devil-may-care attitude toward the world along the way. Now he's in a school he can't escape, learning to develop his latent magical abilities that can save his world --or destroy it.
For some weird reason this book reminded me of the The Magicians by Lev Grossman. In this book, the main character...Wirt (I keep forgetting his name for some reason), suddenly emits a glowing light and transports himself to another world right when he's about to get his face beaten in by a gang of unruly bullies. Somehow, he managed to use magic to get himself away from a hairy situation. *Cues happy music*
However, he's actually screwed himself over because... *jeng jeng jeng* it turns out that that teleportation thing, is impossible for him to replicate, leaving himself stranded on a strange new world with no way to get back to Earth. But it's not all bad. He managed to get himself to the one world where magicians (called Alchemists in this novel) are trained to use magic so there is a good chance that he could learn enough to get back home.
Get this though, the school is actually in a giant tree. I mean a GINORMOUS tree (picture the biggest tree you've ever seen, and multiply it by a gazillion, that's how big it is. In fact, the Giant Treehouse (my term for it lol) is connected to all the hundred worlds where humans live. So, assuming he could find a room that's connected to Earth, that's another route Wirt could take to get back home assuming he doesn't get TOO comfortable studying at the Alchemists Academy.
The book had such great potential in the beginning and the fact that it, in a roundabout kinda of way, reminded me of The Magicans, got me hooked into reading it until the very end. BUT, Stones to Ashes could have used some major, major editing with all the errors found in the book. It also strongly lacked descriptive and elaborative details which could have kept me more interested in the story. StA was way too straightfoward. It felt to me like the author wanted to keep the plot flowing and instead of pausing anywhere to describe what a scene or person looked like or what they felt, it was all strangely rushed along like the ending was so damn important that she just had to have you read it (trust me, it wasn't). This is the major pitfall that brought down my experience of reading this book to a new low. I didn't feel connected to the story at all. The characters were so shallow that you just couldn't figure out what motivated them or what their (non-existent) personalities was like.
Then there was this one scene where (Stephen, or whatever his name was) suddenly got all paranoid and jealous, and then back to normal within a span of a few sentences just because the main character Wirt, and this chick (blah, I can't remember what any of the other characters are called, that's how uninteresting the writing was) he "liked", despite the fact that nothing in the book even remotely hinted at a possible "romance", were too chummy with one another. Total WTF scene there.
Blah, blah, blah. In the end, the story is nothing like the blurb. Wirt, isn't out to save the world. Heck, he's so inconsequential and insignificant that I can't tell what effect he's actually having in the grand scheme of things. In fact, if the author decided to bump him off mid-story, I probably wouldn't have noticed his absence. Imagine a Harry Potter book (plot-wise, not quality of writing), being condensed down to 200 pages. That's what this book became. Too many events written down on too few pages, causing a severe lack of depth and character development