Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

The Book of Blood and Shadow
By: Robin Wasserman
Pub. Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's
Pages: 448
Source: Advanced Readers Copy
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.
So everyone seems to be raving about this book lately. I received an ARC of it at ALA, and knew I had to give it a shot. I have to say though, I was extremely disappointed. Maybe I just went into it with higher expectations then I should of had, and I am definitely a minority here.

Nora, along with her best friend, Chris and boyfriend, Max are working on deciphering The Voynich Manuscript, a centuries old book that no one has been able to figure out the code for. When Nora gets the tasks of translating 400 year old letters of Elizabeth she starts to realize that the letters and the Manuscript are directly related. The closer they get to the mystery, the weirder things get. One night, Chris is murdered in front of his girlfriend, Adrianne, and Max, who is nowhere to be found, is also the prime suspect. Nora makes it her mission to figure out what happened the night Chris died and to clear Max's name.

People are comparing this book to The DaVinci Code, and where I can understand why people are saying this, I don't really feel that it is completely justified. I found the whole mystery stupid. I just couldn't get into it. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to know the mystery and I wanted to know who killed Chris, but I was just so disappointed when everything started to come together.

The Book of Blood and Shadow starts off slow, then at Part II, I could not put the book down, but by the last hundred pages or so, I was so turned off, it was hard to even finish it. Plus, I'm not sure if I was the only one who had this problem, but I was confused for most of the time, which also turned me off. The only thing that kept me completely invested was the characters. They were terrific!

I absolutely loved Nora. I felt so bad for her. First she loses her best friend in a gruesome murder, then her boyfriend goes missing, and then whoever killed Chris, goes after her. Even through everything she was smart, brave and loyal. She was also funny as hell. She meets up with Chris' cousin, Eli, who helps her solve the murder, and I could not help but root for Eli and Nora (Max who??). The two of them were hilarious and I loved their bickering. There was a lot of mystery surrounding Eli, and I enjoyed getting to know him and learning his secrets.

Some of my favorite quotes were between Eli and Nora:

"You want to talk about it?" he asked
"Not really"
"Excellent. Talking is highly overrated. I suggest video games. Or poker. Funny cat videos? He paused when he saw I wasn't cracking a smile. "Or we could just sit here and stare at each other really intensely until one of us manages to melt the other one's brain" (pg. 89 in ARC)

"You're alarmingly good at acting like a bitch," Eli whispered. "It suggests practice".
"And you are alarmingly good at acting whipped," I shot back. "Food for thought." (pg. 304 in ARC)

Seriously! I really loved the characters. Even Chris, who I knew from page 1 was going to die, I couldn't help but become attached to him. Even Adrianne had great moments!

Even though The Book of Blood and Shadow didn't work so much for me, there are so many others who are calling this book their favorite read of 2012, so definitely still give it a shot!  


  1. Hmmm...I think I will still read this, but it's too bad that it didn't live up to your expectations. Now I'm really interested to read it.

  2. Oh, sorry that you didn't enjoy it more (although I can see where you're coming from). But I agree, the characters were terrific :)

    Nice honest review!

  3. I feel like I've heard of the author somewhere but I haven't heard of this book!!!!! AAAA, it sounds fantastic, Liz! MUST MUST GET THIS. Plus I love the cover! Thank you so much for the awesome review! ♥

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