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The Apprentices (The Apothecary Series) Hardcover – June 4, 2013

67 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Apothecary Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-9-It is 1954, and 16-year-old Janie attends a private school in New Hampshire. When her roommate's father, Mr. Magnusson, kidnaps her and holds her hostage on a Malay island, Janie's friends Benjamin and Pip come after her. Despite living on three different continents, the friends share a special bond. In The Apothecary (Putnam, 2011), they harnessed the Pharmacopoeia, a magical apothecary manual, to stop Russia's first nuclear weapons test. Janie then returned home with her parents, Pip became a London actor, and Benjamin pursued humanitarian work in Asia. Now Benjamin must decide how the Pharmacopoeia might rescue Janie and stop Magnusson's plans for his own weapon. Nuanced secondary characters like Magnusson's wife and another apothecary named Jin Lo round out a detailed story. Beloved characters, lyric prose, and exotic settings continue to characterize Meloy's distinguished world-building. However, the three friends spend the novel adrift and alone, physically and metaphorically, and readers may find this sequel less emotionally satisfying than the first book. With more active escape scenes and only a few pages spent together, Janie and her friends seem frozen in fight-or-flight mode, and little character development occurs in the book. Janie manages to resolve her relationship quandary with Benjamin, but Pip is broadly sketched, and the ending is abrupt. Numerous story threads that weave characters and globe-trotting adventures together flash by with confusing rapidity. Series readers will pore over the death-defying escapes and hope the third book reunites the trio more successfully.-Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In The Apothecary (2011), Janie was caught up in a fantastic series of events that included everything from Hollywood blacklisting to magical elixirs. Now 16, she hasn’t seen first-love Benjamin Burrows or his father, whose talents at potion making help save the world from an atomic bomb. A perilous situation reignites the relationship, albeit only through a potion that links the teens’ thoughts. That’s enough, however, to show Benjamin that Janie is in grave danger, and he must save her. Unfortunately, doing so involves being turned into a bird, sailing through cyclones, and fighting off cannibals. Also looking for Janie are the magical Jin Lo, on her way after letting her murdered family’s spirits free in China, and saucy Brit Pip, swatting away the girls as he goes. Meloy boldly weaves the disparate strings of the story together in inventive—sometimes breathtaking—ways. More nuanced than the first book, this brings together a large and intriguing cast and explores their knotty relationships. The sometimes hole-filled plot becomes less and less important, but the characters become more memorable as the pages fly by. Grades 6-9. --Ilene Cooper

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Apothecary Series (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399162453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399162459
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maile Meloy is the author of the story collection Half in Love and the novel Liars and Saints, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize. Meloy's stories have been published in The New Yorker, and she has received The Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christina (A Reader of Fictions) on June 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Oh, the joys of an unsolicited ARC that turns out to be the sequel to a book you enjoyed. Prior to the arrival of this book on my doorstep, I had no idea that there would be a sequel to The Apothecary, nor did I have a specific hankering for one. However, since I did like the first, I was excited to discover what would transpire in this installment. Well, lucky me, The Apprentices is an even better read than The Apothecary, maturer in plot, writing and characterization.

Where The Apothecary was very much a middle grade novel, clearly skewing to a younger audience, The Apprentices could really have been published for either middle graders or young adults. Two years have passed since the ending of The Apothecary, bringing Janie from fourteen years old to sixteen. Janie, Benjamin, and Pip have all grown up in the gap between the two novels, still their charming selves but a bit wiser.

Despite the maturer tone, The Apprentices retains the magic of The Apothecary. Once again, evil forces are at work, attempting to do evil things involving atomic bombs and it's up to the apothecary, his son Benjamin, and Benjamin's friends to save the day. Using a book called the Pharmacopoeia, they can create potions that make the improbable possible. For example, they can become birds, much like in The Sword in the Stone.

On top of that, The Apprentices is also historical fiction. In the first book, Janie's parents had moved to England to escape the Red Scare, as they worked in the entertainment industry. The Cold War is still going strong in The Apprentices. In fact, Meloy even touches on tensions in Vietnam, China and North Korea. I love how she weaves the historical elements in, without beating the reader over the head with them.

Meloy's characters are a lot of fun.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LAS Reviewer on June 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Where magic and mystery meet!

Thoroughly engrossing, Meloy's new work The Apprentices is a simply spellbinding magical adventure. However, it is the characters - the true test of friendship, and the emotional connections, that is the heart of this story.

The Apprentices is a sequel (to The Apothecary) but this reader had not read the first (an oversight I will correct) and this is perfectly comprehensible as a stand-alone. The plot is definitely interesting and unpredictable, yet it is Janie, Benjamin, and Pip who drive the story. The three friends search the world to find each other... well, the search actually starts sooner than that. Janie searches her mind for memories of three missing weeks. Her search allows us readers to get a sense of that first novel, and works as something of a prologue. I might wish this bit had been a bit shorter.

This is also a good illustration of how wonderfully Meloy builds characters: Janie's roommate Opal's family are as real as any of the main characters, in the space of a paragraph. And the very first of the surprises happens so quickly after we disregard both Opal AND her parents... that I am immediately shocked and then mad and intrigued. However, I must tell you that I absolutely hate spoilers, and that makes writing a review for this (that anyone can comprehend, anyway) darn near impossible. Just as we begin to think we can see where this is going, we realize we cannot see at all.

This book is getting a 5 star review because the plot is magically plotted - and as I read on, I can only tell you that further events are both logical and suprising, that magic is a delight - and friendship, true friendship, never lets you down.

The writer's style: Polished professionalism.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gwyn Wallace on June 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I was a bit worried because this is a sequal to such a good book, but it is just as great. I love this book series, and I hope there are many more books about Janie, Benjamin, and Pip. There is
romance perfectly added;not too much, not too little. There is violence and parts that I got extremely emotional, but it adds to the story. I most definitely recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on July 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In this follow-up to THE APOTHECARY, Maile Meloy raises the stakes for her talented young protagonists.

Maile Meloy's debut novel for young people, THE APOTHECARY, ended on a satisfying note, but also with most readers hopeful for a sequel. Now these lucky readers have got one with THE APPRENTICES, a thrilling tale that continues the story of Janie, Benjamin and Pip two years after the dramatic close of the previous novel.

Janie is 16 years old and still has only hazy memories of what happened in London two years earlier. Her friend (and first love) Benjamin Burrows and his father have erased her memories, and she only knows what happened based on the diary Benjamin finally decided to share with her. Janie still has plenty of questions --- but now she's at a New England boarding school while Benjamin is somewhere halfway around the world with his father.

Janie receives periodic letters from Benjamin that seem to make no sense --- but she can't be bothered with trying to decipher them while she engages in the all-consuming project of developing an easy method for desalinizing water. Janie's on the verge of a breakthrough when her jealous roommate (and her roommate's creepy dad) manage to get Janie expelled from school. Desperate to continue her studies, Janie lies to the school, hides from her parents and takes up residence with a local family who owns an Italian restaurant. Their son, Raffaello, is eager to show Janie a normal life (complete with romance,) but soon Benjamin contacts Janie using a new method that piques Janie's interest and eventually panics Benjamin enough to contact their mutual friend Pip for emergency reinforcements.

THE APPRENTICES is a thoroughly enjoyable whirlwind of a novel, a fitting follow-up to Meloy's popular debut.
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