KG's Reviews > A Conspiracy of Alchemists

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
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's review
Dec 07, 2012

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Read from December 07 to 18, 2012

Ehhhh, I could take this book, or leave it. I’ll give it 3 stars out of benefit of the doubt. I’d be more inclined to decrement half a star if I could – mainly because I just wasn't strongly compelled to read it. Can't really say that "I Liked It" (3 stars), but it was better than "Ok" (2 stars). It was moderately enjoyable. By NO means was it a bad read!!!!! I’ll just be clear and honest about that. And, I was reading an advanced copy for my bookclub - so I need to state that up-front, too. Now, as to the story itself, well, there were some clever elements in a clever environment, but, overall, it seemed just a bit too simplistic and contrived for my tastes. And, there were gratuitous scene relocations that just didn’t need to happen. And, as I've said in my blow-by-blow comments - the proofreading/editing is noticeably lacking. I've been told that Advanced/Uncorrected Copies are rife w/ such errors - but this just seems like a dictated story that had no editing before going to print galley. OR, perhaps it went to typeset where someone else got to fat-finger the entire novel. But, in this day and age of file transfer and technology – come on!!! I fail to see how things can go from an author's computer to print with SO many errors...unless those errors existed in the first place (perhaps). Disregard this if I'm grossly under-informed (which, for the publication process is ENTIRELY possible!), but...the number of missing words, missing letters, logical inconsistencies, and gender irregularities seemed amazingly excessive. For a detail-oriented reader - this is VERY disconcerting. And, insult to injury - the author thanks her editors at the end – which seemed laughable. So, back to the story. Nice - not bad - has potential – not my cup of tea. But, the main character, Elle, was very inconsistent, in my view. She was strong, then she was weak; she was determined, then she was uncertain; she was understanding, then she was closed-minded. Okay - that describes most people. But, in a story, I'd like a bit more gradual development as things progress. These inconsistencies were willy-nilly throughout the story. I get SO tired of the trite character structure of, "I hate you, I loathe you, I love you!" cliche! I just thought the plot and the characters were a bit too transparent. For the type of character that was set up in the first chapter – all this seemed completely wrong. If this is supposed to be schmaltzy Young Adult Lit – hmmmm, it must be VERY Young Adult. It reads more like Teenage Angst-ridden Lit. I expected a MUCH more self-aware and forceful female protagonist – not Nancy Drew, junior sleuth turn Oracle. Oh, and that’s another point - - no hint of power, then WHAM, “I’m the Oracle”. That entire theme needed more development. Not even, “Ever since I hit puberty, I’ve had these strange premonitions…”yadda, yadda, yadda. It went from zero to Oracle in half a book. The character of Hugh was not bad, though. I'm not sure if I'll read more of this series, or not. Probably not. Once again, the final hook to transition this story to the next book in the series just didn’t draw me in! I had really ceased to care. Oh, but I DID want to find out what happened to that poor little Absinthe Fairy. That string was left dangling! And, that is a minor character that could have been used to greater potential – but was just a cute little add-in.

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Reading Progress

12/07/2012 page 15
12/07/2012 page 15
4.0% "I received this book as a complimentary copy through my bookclub. The beginning is intriguing and captivating. The writing style is comfortable, and the mood/tone is moderately dark...which is nice! I look forward to this book. I'll report impressions as I progress."
12/10/2012 page 78
22.0% "This is an advanced copy - so I'm allowing for some mechanics being a bit off - still, when it goes for final edit - they should be cautious of catching a few missing words here/there. And, the lead character seems a bit frail for being an independate female. I'll keep an eye on this! Oh, and why would Morse Code print out on paper tape communications - that was odd!
Yet, I'm still liking it a fair degree!"
12/11/2012 page 88
25.0% "Yeah, I'm getting a little concerned with the naiveté of this main character. She's suppose to be a "strong female" character - a pilot who has lots of solo flight experience, etc. - yet she totally wimps out (simpers, and goes all doe-eyed) around guys. She puts up a token show of strength, but it peters out pretty quickly. And, that's NOT the image I was expecting/hoping to see."
12/12/2012 page 109
30.0% "Okay - she's getting a LITTLE more brassy, but, still a bit demure for my tastes. Also, what's up with all the freaking samovars? There is one built into EVERY steam-device in sight! The Brits and their darn tea-time. I'm a tea-lover, but - come on! A samovar built into an experimental helicopter? The inventor had some seriously skewed priorities!!!"
12/13/2012 page 147
41.0% "This is my first advanced copy - but there really seem to be a LOT of errors (he/she errors, missing words, doubled words, overly-repeated words, etc.). But, the plot is staying solid. And, Elle is starting to show much more backbone. So far, so good!"
12/14/2012 page 208
59.0% "Okay, plot is hanging in there, but the errors are becoming a bit more noticeable. I'd think that an author's final copy before going to advance draft would have less blatant errors. Still, with a good edit-job, this would - so far - be a fair book. Oh, but there was one line where the curren Oracle had a totally YODA line! Oh, please!!!! Change that!"
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