Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: April 10th , 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 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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Honestly, I've been trying to write this review for almost a week.  This is THAT book.  You know?  The one that is almost impossible to review without spoilers?  This book has so much going on, that every time I try to articulate my reasons for liking it, I give some important spoiler-y detail away.  I am going to do my best...

This book was very, very good.  I enjoyed it as an adult reader, and I have a feeling that although it is a YA book, it is going to require a certain type of YA reader.  Not every YA reader is going to want to invest in the intellectual side of this story, and that is a HUGE part of this book, but those readers who like to THINK, will love this book.  This is not Twilight, people.  It's more like The Da Vinci Code meets A Great and Terrible Beauty.  It is smart, with intelligent, driven characters.  It is full of mysterious twists and plot developments, jumping back and forth between the late 1500's and the present through letters being translated to English from Latin by the protagonist, Nora.  As she translates these letters, she begins to realize that they may be the missing piece to the puzzle; the one that is needed to break the code that will make sense of a 400+ year old book that supposedly holds the key to knowing the mind of God.  This is a secret that people would kill to know or protect, depending on which side they are on...  As Nora and her friends get mixed up in this centuries old dispute, truths come out that are both unbelievable and grotesque, and you never know who is to be trusted.

This book is one hell of a ride, and it will keep you guessing until the very end.  It had its slow parts, but they were well worth it every time the action kicked off again.  This book appears to have been meticulously researched, and it had me in awe of Robin Wasserman and her dedication to getting it right.  If you like a smart, action-packed mystery that will make you question right and wrong on many levels, pick this one up.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  This is not a book for younger readers.  It's violent, but that isn't even the issue.  This book has too much detail and historical reference for even the most well-read, intelligent Middle School readers.  This book reads like adult lit, and I would recommend it for grades 10 and up (ages 15+).


  1. I just read this one a few days ago! I loved it too, and you're right: it's so difficult to review without spoilers. So many great surprises though! Great review.

  2. I agree. Not for the average teen reader, but there are many that will love this. Great for adults too. Fascinating, complex story. Great review!

  3. I also really liked this book, and think adults would like it too. Here is my review:


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