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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
ISBN: 9780375868764
Publisher: Knopf
Released: April 10, 2012
Page #: 432
Source: My Public Library

"Nora's best friend, Chris, is dead. His girlfriend, Adriane, is catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, is gone. He is also - according to everyone - a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, wherever 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 - and 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."
First Lines:

"I should probably start with the blood.
If it bleeds it leads and all that, right? It's all anyone ever wants to know about, anyway. What did it look like? What did it feel like? Why was it all over my hands?"
Page 3

Typically I love Robin Wasserman's books. Really, I do. But there was something about this one that I really couldn't get into. There are a few words I've found myself using when describing this book... none of them awesome: Dense. Confusing. Unbelievable (pieces of it).

So, the story is about Nora - who is a Latin scholar to the nth. She begins an independant study of translating an ancient text with two of her friends (one who becomes her boyfriend). But this text they are working on holds secrets that an ancient society in Prague wants to get their hands on. Then things start happening to them. There's a murder. There's a disappearance. There's instructions to go halfway across the world. And there's a guy following them.

This book has a very Da Vinci Code vibe. Mixed with The Historian by Kostova. With teens. There's a lot of knowledge that's thrown at you in the first few chapters. Things about Latin and text translating and the history of certain alchemists... stuff that's dense enough to sort of walk away overwhelmed. The bulk of the action and excitement in this book doesn't start, really, until you're over halfway through it. That's when the clues start coming together and things start to pick up. Unfortunately, the first half of the book is pretty bogged down with setting up characters, locations, and backtracking so you understand why things are about to happen like they do.

I know that may people loved this book - several of the reviews I've read have been wonderful. I guess I just wish the story had started at a different point. I also had a little trouble believing in some of the relationships. Nora and Max seem to be very... cautious. And she never seems so in love with him that she feels the need to go to Prague for him - even though that's what she does. It was a little like they dated for the sake of convenience... which doesn't follow for the intense-ness of the rest of the story.

I'm aware the author has nothing to do with the cover - but I really don't see how it relates to the story at all. I mean, you have the tiny reflection of a city in the eye. Otherwise? It doesn't give me any clues to the nature of the story. And it's a little creepy. I kept a post-it over the face when I had the book sitting out.

It's difficult to recommend a book that I had a really hard time getting into. But I do think that someone who has a real interest in foreign languages and alchemical history will think this book is amazing. Maybe it was just too much for me. I will continue to look into books by this author - because I loved her previous stuff. So... onward and upward! :)
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