The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
publisher: Random House Children's Books
release date: April 10th, 2012
hardcover, 432 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: from publisher for honest review
description: 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: This was a slow read for me. It actually started off really well, a compelling story about Nora and her friends, translating ancient Latin documents and letters for an eccentric professor, not exactly sure what it was leading up to. Then suddenly one of them is dead and the others are left to be sucked into a sinister world of two secret societies, each on the opposing sides of an ancient religious war over a machine that is said to enable the user to converse with God. The story had much the same feel as The DaVinci Code (which I loved) with its mysteries being slowly unraveled with all number of codes and puzzles and ancient translations. It was an extremely plot-driven story---very intricately woven and twisting every which way. While there were aspects that I honestly loved, there were almost as many parts that had me very nearly setting this one aside.
In the beginning I really liked the characters and became quickly invested in them. However, throughout the story, I feel like we were made to question their actions and motives so often that by the end, I had completely disconnected from all of them. The only one that I really enjoyed reading all the way through was Eli. Things that I thought would be important and meaningful somehow fell by the wayside and then just seemed a bit insignificant. Also, the translated old letters from Elizabeth to her brother in the 1500s that had completely captivated me at first, seemed to be unnecessarily long and rambling toward the end; I found myself peeking ahead to see when the letter would end, but reading the entire thing in case it revealed anything important. It was definitely interesting enough to read all the way through, but the pace and flow just made it feel very long and a bit fragmented.
Give this one a try! It might not be for everyone, but I know some have really enjoyed it!
Visit Robin Wasserman's site: www.robinwasserman.com
Purchase at: Amazon • BN.com • BookDepository • Indiebound