Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Book of Blood and Shadow

Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Random House
Genre: YA, thriller/suspense, mystery
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: 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.

Review:  Whoooo...okay. I've been dreading writing this review because I know it's going to be really scattered and mostly because I'm really unsure of how I feel about this book. You see, the parts I loved, I really loved...and the parts I didn't...well, they made the book almost unbearable to finish. It was so difficult for me to really get into and thus, took me almost three weeks to read.

"The Book of Blood and Shadow" is being described as a YA Da Vinci Code, and that's exactly how I felt when I started reading it. Conspiracy theories, religion, history? Sign me up! I devoured the first few chapters of this book excited to get to the meaty mystery that was promised to come. Unfortunately, when I put the book down, it was very hard for me to pick it back up again. First though, let me get into the things I just loved about this book.

I absolutely loved the writing. The premise was highly interesting, and written so well. I read this on my Kindle and I found myself constantly highlighting passages, especially at the beginning. I've always been a sucker for first lines and starting paragraphs, so naturally when I read the beginning (which you can find in my Teaser Tuesday post), I was hooked.

Um yeah! AMAZING. And Ms. Wasserman does not disappoint as the book continues. I liked how it was written for YA but at the older end of the YA spectrum, and although there is a romantic plot line woven into the overall story, it's not a focal point.

I really enjoyed the characters, also. Nora, our heroine, was absolutely realistic and although she gave off a very apathetic vibe, it was hard to dislike her. Maybe I'm just a sucker for smart chicks and she definitely fits the bill. The supporting cast was also well written and very well realized. Wasserman revealed the personalities of her characters at a great pace and even at the end, added new developments to them that didn't at all seem forced or out of left-field.

But speaking of pacing...I could absolutely not deal with the pacing of this book. Parts that offered some background were given entirely too much page time and thus I found myself skimming points of the book. It was so hard to go from "Ok! Yes! fast-paced! I want to know more!!" to essentially not even caring about what's going on a few pages later. It was all too scattered and I really feel this book would have greatly benefited from more edits, especially when it came to the epistolary side story about Elizabeth Weston.

Overall, there was just too much "stuff" clogging up that story that I cared about - to the point where I let the book sit and sit until I picked it up again, out of guilt. I do think that Robin Wasserman is an excellent writer, and the story itself has a fantastic premise, but I'd be reluctant to recommend this book to my friends. I would, though, be more than willing to read more by the author!

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