Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publish Date: April 10, 2012
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 still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend, Adrianne, 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, to her parents, 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 may 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.
The Book of Blood and Shadow is one seriously crazy, twisty adventure. There were so many plot twists you’d think it’d be hard to keep up, but the story actually flowed in a fantastic way.
This is a whopper of a book, so let’s break it down:
Nora – Flawed, but in a good, believable way. This girl has dealt with some serious tragedy in her life, so I don’t blame her for being pessimistic. She was also headstrong and stubborn; unwilling to let anyone do anything for her. The fact that she was unwilling to ask for help may seem stupid, but I actually admired that in her.
Max – I felt kind of on the fence about him most of the time. I could see why Nora liked him and how she reasoned away his moody side, but I can’t deal with moody and I don’t appreciate guys snapping at their girlfriends just because they “get that way.” I didn’t hate him, but I also didn’t really like him.
Adriane – Sometimes I liked her and sometimes she just seemed so damn full of herself. Plus, her and Nora had kind of a strange relationship.
Just because I complained about the characters doesn’t mean they weren’t great in the story :]
This is one crazy storyline, guys. Just when you think you’ve figured it out BAM there’s another twist you never saw coming (or, at least, I didn’t see coming). I kind of like that the story starts about by telling you Chris is dead and then backtracks and gives you a little of what happened before Chris was murdered. The backtrack made it possible to get to know Chris and a little of why he died without it having to just be info-dump or telling instead of showing.
I loved the story. I loved everything from Latin translations (although, I could’ve done without Latin/Czech/whatever that wasn’t translated throughout the book) to the idea of this crazy machine hidden away in Prague that does who know what. Everything was mysterious enough to keep me going but Wassernan also provided enough answers I didn’t want to pull my hair out from all the not knowing.
My one complaint is all the religion talk. It probably won’t bother most people since it’s not the preachy kind. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Norah doesn’t believe in any type of religion so since they’re searching for some religious artifact, you can imagine how often she’s preaching her non-belief. (I know I said it wasn’t preachy, but it isn’t what people normally think of as preachy.) I completely understand why the questioning was important to Norah’s character, but I just wish it wasn’t so “God could not exist and whoever believes in him is kind of stupid” all the time.
The Nutshell: If you’re looking for a good cross-country mystery then The Book of Blood and Shadow is definitely your book. There’s so many plot-twists I can just short of guarantee (because I can’t guarantee anything :P) you’ll never be bored or figure out the story early on.
Rating: Direct Hit