Saturday, April 07, 2012

Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow

The Book of Blood and Shadow
Robin Wasserman
Release date: April 10th, 2012
by Random House Children's Books

Goodreads / Purchase
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.
*A copy was provided by Random House Canada for review purposes*

The claims of this being like a YA Da Vinci Code are not false; mysterious documents, coded messages, religion, murder - it easily reminded me of this well loved book by Dan Brown which is a favorite of mine. The Book of Blood and Shadow is cryptic and dangerous, with a phenomenal writing style - I loved every single minute of this novel!

It all starts with the Book. The Voynich manuscript to be exact. This book is, in fact, real, and deemed as the most mysterious book on earth that no one has of yet been able to decipher. This is their assignment. However, Nora is, instead and to her dismay, given 400 year old letters to translate which she doesn't believe is as important, or nearly as interesting as the manuscript. This is where her story begins. Some have mentioned how it took them a while to get into this book due to the slow pace at the start. I can easily see this being the case, but I was completely captivated from its very first sentence: "I should probably start with the blood." From then, I hung on to every word, to every page, to every chapter until I swallowed it whole. Where some may find it slow, I found it increasingly cryptic. It was clearly the beginning of something major. Something very mysterious, and full of peril. There are books that don't need to start with a bang, but rather a thud. This is one of them.

However, if you do have trouble getting into it, page 100 is where you can find the bang, and from then on it's a fast forward until the end. Believe me, you won't even know what hit you. You'll think the story is going one way, only to find yourself completely baffled by the sudden, unexpected turn of events. I could never foresee what was going to happen next, and, for this, I am undoubtedly impressed. Some may find that you have to suspend disbelief in the final chapters, but when it comes to faith and extremely old circumstances, I was definitely fine with it.

The writing: splendid! The narration is extremely intelligent. I was blown away by this girl's way of thinking. Nora's perceptions, analysis, her reflective chain of thought, it was all so smart and put together. I felt connected to her words in a way I've rarely felt before. She took me in her head and made me see who she really was, how SHE saw the world around her. Positively outstanding!

The Book of Blood and Shadow is not your typical YA novel. It's raw and it breaks rules, with an intense insanity that does not stop until you turn that last page. To say it simply: It's nothing short of brilliant!

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