Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Early Review: THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Robin Wasserman

AUTHOR: Robin Wasserman
PUBLISHER: Random House Children’s Books
IMPRINT: Alfred A. Knopf BFYR
PUB. DATE: April 10th, 2012
CATEGORY: Fiction – Juvenile
SOURCE: Netgalley

One girl is determined to find the truth and avenge the dead.

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.

My Thoughts:

This book was incredibly impressive! The storyline, the characters, and the history were impeccable, and I could not put it down. I’m actually having a difficult time putting how I feel about this book into words. I’m trying very hard not to just sit here and gush about it, because I really want to convey how I loved every aspect of THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW.  It’s complicated; every part of it, but in an incredibly good way. So, I’m going to attempt to lay it out without stepping all over myself in excitement. So, here it goes.

The Story:
The attention to detail was amazing, in both the historical and fictional aspects. Everything was so well developed that I felt like I understood everything Nora did and why she didn’t understand some things.  The complexities of some plots often cause confusion for some readers; however, the complexities within The Book of Blood and Shadow, though numerous, were so well developed, explained, and executed, that I found the confusion limited to the things Nora found confusing. The history was intricately and seamlessly woven into the fiction, and the past was fascinating. I’m not usually a history buff, but the Voynich manuscript and the historical locations and events were amazing. The Latin ingrained in the story was intriguing, and the Elizabeth letters, though fictional, were fantastic and well written! The imagination behind the Lumen Dei and the societies associated with it, the Hledacˇi and Fidei Defensor, was incredibly imaginative and the histories behind them were detailed and believable. I would not have been able to separate fact from fiction without the details being provided.** I also loved how part of the story was set in Prague, and there are several historical locations visited. The setting really added to the story and made it memorable.

The Characters:
The characters in The Book of Blood and Shadow are, well, amazing and so are the relationships between them.  Nora, the main character and narrator, is extremely intellectual. She translates Latin texts at a college for fun, and I love that the narration is so in character. The word choices for her reflect her level of education and her interests in Latin. I could clearly see how her past affected her present and how the relationships she had were affected by it as well. So overall, she is an extremely well developed character, and I felt so close to her that I wanted to cry with her even when she wouldn’t allow herself to do so. I felt her every pain, loss, and betrayal, and when she was alone I felt alone. It was truly amazing. After a while, I could even tell when she was lying to herself, and only seeing what she wanted to see. It was heartbreaking and eye-opening at the say time.

There are four other characters of significance (in my opinion). The first two are Nora’s best friends Chris and Adriane. These three have been inseparable since they first met, and their relationships to each other are as complex as the plot while at the same time as simple as can be. I don’t want to give any part of the story away, so I will just leave it at that, but this relationship is an aspect of the plot that was very important. There’s also Max, Chris’s best friend, and Nora’s boyfriend. He’s one of the most complex characters in the story. He’s the group transplant that makes Nora no longer the “3rd wheel” but he doesn’t exactly fit in seamlessly. And he’s just as vague about his past as Nora is, which seems to suit her just fine. Max’s motivations and actions are a huge source of mystery and unease, and his devotion to Nora is, well interesting.

The fourth character, and perhaps my favorite, is the mysterious Eli. I don’t want to give away his role in the story, but he quickly became my favorite. His diverse skills, questionable family background, and ability to show up at the best and worst of times was surprising. And the relationship he develops with the group and his interactions with minor characters along the way left me, along with Nora, questioning his every move. He seems to play the role of Nora’s protector, but that’s supposed to be Max’s role. The developments among the group dynamics become complex and problematic; relationships are challenged, betrayals are confirmed, and lives are never the same.

A creepy tale of murder, betrayal, history and mystery, that will mesmerize and entrance teens and adults alike.

**Details regarding the fictional and historical aspects (including plot and characters) provided by the author in the Afterword of the book.

Pre-Order Here:
Random House

ROBIN WASSERMAN is the author of the Seven Deadly Sins series, Hacking Harvard, and the Skinned trilogy, which bestselling author Scott Westerfeld called "spellbinding." She has a master's degree in the history of science, and is fascinated by Renaissance philosophy, religion, magic, science, and the interplay among them. She lives in Brooklyn.


1 comment:

  1. 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)