Saturday, April 07, 2012

Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow

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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!

5 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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33 Responses to “Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow”

  1. Silverlight

    Wow, what a review! With words like “splendid”, “intelligent”, and “brilliant” it looks like you can’t go wrong with this one.
    Already added to my pile.

  2. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Really? It lives up to the claims of DaVinci Code awesomeness? OMG. I really need to read this one. Holy cow, I like it when YA “breaks the rules”. Great review (now, I must go read!).

  3. Amy

    Wow!! This sounds really awesome!! Such a great review!! Makes me want to read the book asap!! I really loved The Da Vinci Code, so if it is similar then I will probably really love this. The cover is amazing I love the shadow writing and OMG her eye!! I didn’t notice it before. How cool!!

  4. Jac

    YAY!!! I am so excited to read this one now, so excited!! Your raving review has made me anxious to hurry up and finish my current read. You’ve got me curious about what happens on page 100!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  5. Katie @ BlookGirl

    Ahhh! I cannot WAIT to read this book! (and look – 5 hot espressos!) 🙂 I was really hoping you’d love it, and am glad to see that you did. That first sentence would have me hooked, too!

    Thanks for another great review, Giselle <333

  6. Heather

    This sounds AMAZING! I’m going to check it out right now! How can I resist a novel that breaks all the rules and has a great mystery? I cannot.

  7. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    I loved Dan Brown’s book (still do, actually) so the fact that this book is compared to that, is definitely a good point for me. And the fact that Nora can put everything smart together is also something I like. A stupid heroin is one of the things I utterly hate.

    Thanks for the review! 😀

  8. Ems

    I LOVED this one! It was amazing, and I totally agree that it didn’t need to start with a bang. We needed time to digest what was happening and figure out the relationships. Truly amazing book. I had a galley, but I will definitely be purchasing my own copy because I want to read it over and over.

    My Review

  9. Giselle

    Thanks so much guys! I hope you love it all as much as I did!

    @Ems: Right? Really great from start to finish. The finished copy of really great too it’s made with pages that have a “ripped” effect. Plus the cover is gorgeous and feels rough-like. Love it!

  10. Lexie

    Okay, that first line? REALLY FREAKING BRILLIANT. Also, you have convinced me. I’ve heard mixed things on this one, but after your review, I simply most own this.

  11. Audrey (Bibliosaurus Text)

    I’m so excited to read this, especially since I’ve actually seen the Voynich Manuscript up close and in person 🙂 You can see the entire thing digitized on the Beinecke Library’s website now, if you’re curious to see what it looks like.

  12. Sophia

    I’ve heard really mixed things about this book. I’m glad you loved this one, though, Giselle! I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code yet, so the comparison is lost on me, unfortunately. 🙁 However, by reading your fabulous review, I can definitely see that this book sounds intense and great! I think I’ll check it out. 🙂 Thanks for the fantastic review, Giselle! 🙂

  13. Lindsey (A Storm of Words)

    I’ve been seeing this title and cover around for a while now, but didn’t really look into what it was about. After reading your review, I think I will DEFINITELY have to check this out soon. It sounds amazing 🙂

  14. Candace

    I just had a good friend tell me she was reading this and was loving it. I think the cover turned me off but now I HAVE to read this! It sounds incredible!

  15. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    Darn it, Giselle! Now I have to rearrange my tbr and put this on top. (That makes me sound so organized when in reality I’m anything but.)
    I loved the DaVinci Code, I don’t care what anyone says, and it was about time for something this exciting and fresh to show up in ya.
    Thanks for the push in the right direction.

  16. Shannon@BooksDevoured

    I have not seen it called a YA Da Vinci Code yet, but now that I have I am even more excited about it. A Cryptic and Dangerous read sounds fabulous!! I am literally going to Amazon right now and Adding it to my wish list!!!

  17. BookBreather

    Great review! I’ve seen a lot of mixed things about this book, but at the end of the day, I am still really excited. I loved the last book I read by Robin Wasserman and now I have no doubt I will love this one too 🙂

  18. Celine

    Wow, if Giselle gives the book 5 Hot Espressos, I definitely need to buy this book and read it soon! I am glad to see that The Book of Blood and Shadow is not a typical YA novel and it’s brilliant!

    Awesome review, Giselle! You really make me giddy to get this book! ♥

  19. Heidi

    I’m glad to see others really getting into and enjoying this book, I too felt it was a YA Da Vinci Code, Foucault’s Peundulum, or even Indiana Jones. Something just felt missing for me though, and I didn’t find myself as on the edge of my seat as you did. The writing was beautiful though!

  20. aLmYbNeNr

    It is really good so far, Giselle! It’s taking me awhile to read it. It’s long, but I’ve been distracted because I’m getting ready to go to an archival conference. Maybe I’ll finish it tonight or tomorrow. I’m about 72% through. You are so right about the YA Da Vinci Code thing. And I love that Prague is involved. It was slow to start for me too, but I got past it quickly!

  21. @HarleyBearBooks

    I’m on page 30 today and was considering dnf-ing it, but I figured I’d see if you wrote a review first. I’m really glad I did because I think I’ll stick with it now. At least to page 100 and then I’ll make a decision. Great review!