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Friday, April 13, 2012

eARC Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow

TITLE: The Book of Blood and Shadow AUTHOR: Robin Wasserman
PUB: Random House                             PUB DATE: 4/10/12
FORMAT: eARC                                    SOURCE: Netgalley

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.  When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love.  When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark. But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead.  His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

THREE WORDS: Blood, Intrigue, Winded

MY REVIEW: I’m conflicted when it comes to Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow. I really wanted to love this book more than I did, but that’s not to say that I didn’t find it an enjoyable and impressive read.

High school senior Nora, along with her BFF Chris and Chris’ roommate Max, intern with an odd history professor obsessed with a mysterious and untranslatable book. Nora’s given the task of translating, from Latin to English, the letters of Elizabeth, a young poet who’s been dead for hundreds of years.  Nora and Max fall in love and she starts to think that maybe something will go right in her life for once. But then the professor is attacked, Chris is murdered and Max disappears. Nora and Adriane’s (Chris’ girlfriend) journey to clear Max’s name takes them to Prague where they find themselves embroiled in a battle between two old societies and on the run for their lives.

I’ve seen many people call The Book of Blood and Shadow a YA version of The Da Vinci Code and I agree. This book is full of intrigue, mystery, secret codes and ciphers, murder and ancient societies.  Overall, Wasserman offers readers a captivating and well written story, but it’s not without its faults.

The first hundred pages or so move quite slowly, but I didn’t mind this languid pace so much. I think Wasserman does a great job of building the story’s foundation in these first hundred pages, while also developing the characters. And when the plot does start to build and pick up, I found myself easily pulled into the mystery and suspense; I desperately NEEDED to know all the answers.

And the intriguing mystery Wasserman has created is smart, enthralling and well developed. I don’t want to talk about the actual storyline too much because I’m afraid I’ll spoiler readers, but I will say that the story takes many twists and turns and will leave you thoughtful and with a racing heart. I’m very impressed with Wasserman’s ability to craft a truly thrilling and clever mystery. However, I was disappointed that I was able to predict quite of few of the revelations and character twists.

Wasserman’s characters are well developed and original, but I think much of my confliction about this book comes from my inability to really connect with the main character, Nora. I like how smart, capable and realistic Nora is, but I never found myself truly invested in her as a character. I love a sarcastic character, but I found Nora’s acerbic sarcastic humor more annoying than entertaining. In fact, I think much of the humor in the book falls flat.

Chris, Adriane and Max all have interesting qualities and play significant roles throughout the book, but as with Nora, I just didn’t love them. Let’s just say that if Nora, Chris, Adriane and Max were real people, I probably wouldn’t hang out with them. One character I did love though is Eli! I found him very endearing, likable and a swoon-worthy guy.

Wasserman has a habit of writing very long, winded sentences in this book; like paragraph sized sentences. And there are also some very long, winded descriptions as well. After a while I found this windedness to be very repetitive and made the story drag. Honestly, near the end of the book, I found myself merely skimming the long passages.

I was a little disappointed by the ending and found it a bit lacking, I suppose. But I did like that most of the questions and mysteries were answered and solved.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: In The Book of Blood and Shadow author Robin Wasserman creates an intriguing, clever story that mystery lovers will enjoy getting caught up in. I found some of the characters hard to connect with and the winded writing style to be a bit too much at times, but overall I liked this book.

3/5 Cupcakes

Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N
I'm the author of the Cold Awakening Trilogy (Skinned, Crashed, and Wired), Hacking Harvard, the Seven Deadly Sins series, and the forthcoming Book of Blood and Shadow. I'm also a crazed Stephen King fan and David Foster Wallace evangelist with an embarrassing list of Important Books I've Never Read But Can Bluff About Well Enough to Discuss at Cocktail Parties. I'm working on it.



Lisa Mandina said...

Interesting review. I kind of agree with some of your points. Check out my review of this book here:

Amy said...

Great review! I really can't wait to read this one, it sounds like my kind of read. Thank you for sharing! :)

Amy said...

Thanks for the great review!! I have heard mostly really good stuff about this book. It does sounds really good. You make a lot of good points in your review. I hope I can enjoy it more than you did.

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking said...

Thanks ladies!

To Amy and Amy: I hope y'all enjoy this one more than me. I did like it, even if I had my issues with it, and it does have a smart, original premise. I look forward to your thoughts on it.

grace crawford said...

Thanks for the review. The summary really intrigued me, but was wondering if the task could be pulled off. I now know where to place it in my pile.

grace (Help Me Sleep Better)