The Book of Blood and Shadow

( 31 )


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, ...

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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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this polished thriller, Nora, an emotionally scarred teenager, interns with an eccentric college professor who has dedicated his life to decoding the Voynich manuscript, a mysterious (real-life) 15th-century document written in an unknown language. One night, Nora stumbles upon the gruesome murder of her close friend Chris, with his girlfriend, Adriane, crouched catatonic in his blood. Nora’s boyfriend, Max, has disappeared, and the police think he’s the murderer. Nora, investigating on her own, comes to believe that the crime was committed by the Hledaci, an ancient Czech cult dedicated to finding the Lumen Dei, an alchemical machine. With the cult possibly coming for Nora next, she and Adriane head for Prague—the heart of the deadly mystery—to find answers and save Max. Wasserman (the Cold Awakening trilogy) has written an intricate and tense tale that combines code breaking, a well-realized and genuinely creepy Czech background, and plenty of believable action and tragic turns. Readers who enjoy fast-paced, bloody, historically inflected thrillers in the vein of Dan Brown will be riveted. Ages 12–up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Here's something refreshing: a religious-historical thriller with a nifty Mobius strip of a plot—think Nancy Werlin channeling Dan Brown—serving up shivery suspense, sans fangs or fur. Battered by family tragedy, high-school senior Nora has been sleepwalking through life in her chilly New England town. Knowing her facility in Latin, Chris and his roommate, Max, talk her into helping translate letters relating to Edward Kelley, a prominent 16th-century alchemist. Sidelined into working on his daughter's letters, Nora learns of the Lumen Dei (the alchemical MacGuffin), sought down the centuries by religious fanatics. Pairing up, Max and Nora form a bond with Chris and his girlfriend, Adriane, that's severed when Chris is brutally murdered. Adriane, the only witness, is catatonic, and Max has vanished, leaving Nora on her own until Chris's cousin Eli arrives to collect Chris's effects and keep an eye on her. A cryptic message from Max sends Nora, joined by the semi-recovered Adriane and stalked by Eli, to the mean streets of Prague. The teen designation feels less content- than market-driven. While depictions of violence and sexuality are more muted than the title suggests, Nora's sensibility, casual independence and vocabulary are entirely adult. A classy read that repays reader effort. (historical note) (Thriller. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews Best of Teen's Books 2012

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 13, 2012:
“Readers who enjoy fast-paced, bloody, historically inflected thrillers in the vein of Dan Brown will be riveted.”

Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2011:
"Here's something refreshing—a religious-historical thriller . . . serving up shivery suspense, sans fangs or fur . . . A classy read that repays reader effort."

Review, Justine Magazine, February / March 2012:
“A must read for fans of Revolution and The DaVinci Code . . . fast-paced and vivid."

Review, A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy blog,, March 28, 2012:
"I fell for The Book of Blood and Shadow at the first sentence . . . part of the wonder of The Book of Blood and Shadow is the twists and turns it takes . . .a favorite book read in 2012."

Review, The Horn Book Magazine, March 1, 2012:
"This is a thorough mixture of contemporary American adolescence, the sixteenth-century occult, and atmospheric, historical substance, all dished up with a convoluted plot in DaVinci Code mode."

“A lushly drawn mystery of manipulation and desire."
—Holly Black, author of Black Heart

"Genuinely thrilling. This is the historical conspiracy you've been waiting for."
—Maureen Johnson, author of The Name of the Star

From the Hardcover edition.

VOYA - Jan Chapman
Author Dan Brown should feel very paternal about Wasserman's latest book, The Book of Blood and Shadow. It is a chip off the old "Da Vinci Code block." High school student Nora works for a college professor doing research on a centuries-old alchemist manuscript. She is assigned to read letters written by Elizabeth Weston, the young daughter of a sixteenth-century alchemist that may shed light on deciphering the manuscript. She is close friends with her fellow researchers, Chris and his girlfriend, Adriane, and romantically inclined towards the other member of their group, Max. Then Chris is murdered, Adriane is found in a catatonic coma, and Max suddenly disappears. When Adriane emerges from her catatonic state, she and Nora decide to decipher the clues of the manuscript and find the answer to who is responsible for Chris' murder. The quest for answers take them to Prague, where their investigations begin to bear fruit, attracting the attention of an ancient and deadly society called the Lumen Dei. Wasserman is a skillful writer and, although the plot is derivative, the characters are well-developed and the complex relationship between the four main characters is compelling. The connection between Nora and her sixteenth-century counterpart, Elizabeth, is cleverly done, but the formulaic plot detracts from an otherwise well-written novel. Still, teen fans of The Da Vinci Code (Doubleday, 2003) will undoubtedly enjoy this teen version. Reviewer: Jan Chapman
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Since the death of her brother, high school senior Nora has retreated into her Latin studies to hide from her dysfunctional family. With her older friend Chris and his roommate Max, she works on a complex project at the local college. The late 16th-century texts they translate discuss the Lumen Dei, an ancient device that would purportedly give humans the insight and power of God and could possibly bring about the end of the world. Nora finds Max off-putting at first, but the two eventually begin a romantic relationship. When Chris is murdered and the Latin manuscripts are stolen, Max, the main suspect, disappears. Nora is determined to clear his name and get to the bottom of why someone wanted the stolen documents enough to kill for them. She and Chris's girlfriend head to Prague, where they hope to find Max and some answers. Some readers may be less interested in the subplot that unfolds in the Latin letters that Nora translates, but fans of Da Vinci Code-style thrillers will likely be drawn to this richly imagined novel.—Hayden Bass, Seattle Public Library, WA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375868764
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 484,777
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Wasserman is the author of the Seven Deadly Sins series, Hacking Harvard, and the Skinned trilogy, which bestselling author Scott Westerfeld called "spellbinding." She has a master's degree in the history of science, and is fascinated by Renaissance philosophy, religion, magic, science, and the interplay among them. She lives in Brooklyn.
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Read an Excerpt


I should probably start with the blood.

If it bleeds it leads and all that, right? It’s all anyone ever wants to know about, anyway. What did it look like? What did it feel like? Why was it all over my hands? And the mystery blood, all those unaccounted-for antibodies, those faceless corkscrews of DNA--who left them behind?

But beginning with that night, with the blood, means that Chris will never be anything more than a corpse, bleeding out all over his mother’s travertine marble, Adriane nothing but a dead-eyed head case, rocking and moaning, her clothes soaked in his blood, her face paper white with that slash of red razored into her cheek. If I started there, Max would be nothing but a void. Null space; vacuum and wind.

Maybe that part would be right.

But not the rest of it. Because that wasn’t the beginning, any more than it was the end. It was--note the brilliant deductive reasoning at work here--the middle. The center of gravity around which we all spiraled, but none of us could see. The center cannot hold, Max liked to say, back when things were new and quoting poetry seemed a suitably ironic way to declare our love. Things fall apart.

But things don’t just fall apart. People break them.


In the beginning was the Book.

“Seven hundred years old.” The Hoff slammed it down so hard the table rattled. “Imagine that.”

Apparently noting our lack of awe, he dropped a liver-spotted fist onto the book with nearly as much force. “Do so now.” He swiveled his head to glare at each of us in turn, neck veins bulging with the effort. “Close your eyes. Imagine a scribe in a dark, windowless room. Imagine his quill, scratching across the page, transcribing his secrets--his God, his magic, his power, his blood. Imagine, for just one moment, that you will be the one to reach across the ages and make this manuscript yield its treasure.” He drew a baby-blue handkerchief from his breast pocket and hocked a thick wad of phlegm into its center. “Imagine what it might be like if your sad, small lives were actually worth something.”

I closed my eyes, as ordered. And imagined, in glorious detail, the tortures I would impose on Chris as soon as we escaped from this musty dungeon of mad professors and ancient books.

“Trust me,” Chris had said, promising me a genial old man with twinkling grandfather eyes and a Santa laugh. The Hoff was, according to Chris, a bearded marshmallow, hovering on the verge of senility, with little inclination to force his research assistants to show up on time, or, for the most part, show up at all. This was supposed to be my senior-year gift to myself, a thrice-weekly escape from the ever-constricting halls of Chapman Prep into the absentminded bosom of ivy-covered academia, a string of lazy afternoons complete with snacking, lounging, and the occasional nap. Not to mention, Chris had pointed out as my pen hovered over the registration form, “the opportunity to spend quality time with your all-time favorite person, otherwise known as me.” Not that this was in short supply, as his freshman dorm was about a hundred yards from my high school locker. The only problem with the dorm was having to put up with the presence of his roommate, who resolutely kept himself on his side of the room while keeping his owlish eyes on us.

And now that same roommate stared at me from across the table, the final member of “our intrepid archival team.” Another detail Chris had conveniently neglected to mention. Chris assured me that Max didn’t intend to be creepy, and was, when no one else was watching, almost normal. But then, Chris liked everyone. And his credibility was slipping by the minute.

The Hoff--Chris had coined the nickname last year, when he’d been the one whiling away his senior year with the get-out-of-jail-free pass commonly known as supervised independent study--passed around the Book. “Decades’ worth of experts have tried to crack the code,” he said as we flipped through page after page of incomprehensible symbols. More than two hundred pages of them, broken only by elaborate illustrations of flowers and animals and astronomical phenomena that apparently had no counterparts in the real world. “Historians, cryptographers, mathematicians, the NSA’s best code breakers gave it all they had, but the Voynich manuscript refused to yield. Mr. Lewis!”

We all flinched. The Hoff snarled, revealing a mouthful of jagged teeth, sharp as fangs and--judging from his expression--soon to be applied to a similar purpose. “That is not how one handles a valuable book.”

Max, who had been rifling through the pages like it was a flip-book, rested his hands flat on the table. Behind his glasses, his eyes were wide. “Sorry,” he said quietly. Aside from the soft “Hi” I’d gotten when we were introduced, it was the first time I’d heard him speak.

I cleared my throat. “It’s not a valuable book,” I told the Hoff. “It’s a copy of a valuable book. If he ruined it, I’m sure he could scrounge up the twenty bucks to pay you back.”

The real thing, with its crumbling seven-hundred-year-old pages and fading seven-hundred-year-old ink, was safely ensconced in a Yale library, eighty miles to the south, where faculty didn’t have to settle for high-school-age researchers or cheap facsimiles. The Hoff closed his eyes for a moment, and I suspected he was putting his own imagination to the test, pretending away whatever scandal had stripped him of his Harvard tenure and dumped him here to rot at a third-rate college in a third-rate college town for the rest of his academic life.

Thanks, Max mouthed, an instant before the Hoff opened his eyes and resumed his glare.

“All books are valuable,” the professor said. But he didn’t press it.

I decided the roommate wasn’t so bad when he smiled.

The meeting lasted for another hour, but the Hoff gave up on his dreamlike rambling and instead stuck to logistics, explaining his significant research and our minimal--“but absolutely essential!”--part in it. He’d just weaseled a collection of letters out of some wealthy widow, and was convinced they contained the secret to decoding the Book. (It was always the Book when he spoke of it, capital B implicit in the hushed voice, and we followed suit, ironically at first, then later out of habit and grudging respect.) Max and Chris would be put to work indexing and translating the bulk of the collection, searching for clues. I, on the other hand, was assigned a “special” project all my own.

“Most of the letters are written by Edward Kelley,” the Hoff explained. “Personal alchemist to the Holy Roman emperor. Many believe he authored the Book himself. But I believe his contribution is both lesser and greater. I think he got his hands on it, and solved it. And now we will follow in his footsteps.” He pointed at me. “Ms. Kane.”

“Nora,” I said.

“Ms. Kane, you will deal with the letters written by Kelley’s daughter, Elizabeth Weston, which seem to have found their way into the collection by mistake. I doubt they contain anything of use, but nonetheless, we must be thorough.”

Unbelievable. I could translate twice as fast and three times as accurately as Chris could, and if the Hoff had even bothered to glance at my Latin teacher’s recommendation, he’d know it. “Is this because I’m a woman?”

Chris snorted.

“I can take the Elizabeth letters if Nora doesn’t want them,” Max said. “It’s okay with me.”

Thank you, I would have liked to mouth, returning the favor, but the Hoff was watching. And his face was a storm cloud. “I mind. This kind of work requires a certain . . . maturity. Elizabeth’s letters will give Ms. Kane ample practice in historical translation while the two of you help me with the real search.”

Admittedly, if you’d asked me five minutes earlier, I would have said I didn’t care whether I was translating important letters, pointless letters, or a sixteenth-century grocery list. But then the Hoff opened his big, fat, sexist, ageist--whatever -ist was conscribing me to uselessness--mouth.

“So it’s because I’m in high school?” I added. “You know, it’s not fair to judge me based on--”

“Do you want to be a member of this team or not, Ms. Kane?”

I could have enlightened him on the difference between want and need, as in wanting to be at Adriane’s house mopping up her latest micro-drama, or in Chris’s dorm room watching TV (or at least trying to, while pretending not to notice Chris and Adriane making out behind me and Max doing his spook stare from across the room), basically wanting to be anywhere else, but needing the credits for graduation and the bullet point for my college applications.

“I do, Professor Hoffpauer.”

“Good.” He stood up and, with stiff, awkward contortions, folded himself into a bulky wool topcoat. “The collection will be waiting here for you tomorrow afternoon. Christopher has a key to the office and will show you proper document-handling protocol.”

“The archive’s not being housed in the rare-books library?” Max asked.

“As if I’d let that harpy get her hands on these?” the Hoff said. He narrowed his eyes. “Not a word to her about this. Or to anyone, for that matter. I won’t have someone taking this away from me. They’re everywhere, you know.”

“Who?” Max asked. Chris just shook his head, knowing better.

“Young man--” The Hoff lowered his voice and leaned toward Max, casting a shadow across the Book. “You don’t want to know.”

It was a close call, but we managed to hold our laughter until he was out of the room.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 31 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 19, 2012

    ok read

    This book was better than I expected it to be, but not as great as everyone says it is. The book of Blood and Shadow is full of twists and turns and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. It is a mystery, historical fiction, and love story all rolled into one.

    Nora is a likable character, but is also a bit dim witted at times. There are so many things that have been going on around her that she somehow never saw or never realized were happening, it is just insane. I got annoyed by her pretty quick.

    Adriane is not at all likable, she seemed spoiled and obviously thought she could do whatever she wanted and didn’t care who she hurt in the process.

    Max- well- I’m not sure how he fooled everyone so well.

    All these people, Chris included, were supposed to be Nora’s best friends but yet she knew nothing about any of them in the end. I wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed at Nora’s stupidity, or sad that she somehow never knew any of her “friends” at all.

    Even though this does not seem like a review with flying colors, overall The Book of Blood and Shadow was a good read. It was both entertaining and fresh. I have not read anything like it before. Now it does have similarities to some popular movies and some would say, another well known book, but I saw it mostly as an original work that is worth reading. I would recommend this book to older high school student through adults. Both males and female would probably enjoy this book. There is violence and references to sex, but nothing graphic.

    I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist you in recognizing books that you might enjoy and also to assist parents and teachers in recommending appropriate books for your kids to read.

    Please read more of my reviews on my blog: sarahereads(dot)wordpress(dot)com

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 24, 2012

    The Book of Blood and Shadow was a great read.  The characters w

    The Book of Blood and Shadow was a great read.  The characters were well developed, with a great plot line.  It kept me guessing.  
    Which I loved.  It was sad that Nora didn't truly know the people she trusted.  And the one you were driven to think she shouldn't trust
    was really the only one she could.  I liked the spin of history repeating it self and how she was drawn into the letters and her connection 
    to them.  

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Ugh, this book is just so boring. I've been reading it since the

    Ugh, this book is just so boring. I've been reading it since the beginning of june. I keep putting it aside for other books because i can't seem the get through it. I really wish it were more interesting but i'm going to try to get through it since i hate leaving a book unfinished but i would not recommend this to anyone.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Book of Blood and Shadow is okay. It’s got a reasonabl

    The Book of Blood and Shadow is okay. It’s got a reasonable plotline, intelligent dialogue, vivid descriptions of a foreign country and complicated characters that are well developed. Unfortunately the frequent infodumps and the somewhat cartoony villains prevented me from really enjoying the story.

    But like I said, this book has some very good parts and it’s the characters that really shine here. Their personality growth and transformation after Chris dies is quite painful to watch, though it doesn’t evoke that gut-wrenching emotion you have when you really connect with characters. Despite that, I felt they were all really well-written and their actions logical considering their situation.

    The real villain in this story is pure genius. The beginning is slow and some might call it mind-numbingly cheesy, but I found that cheesiness cute and a great way to make sure we didn’t suspect the culprit. Like with all good mystery thrillers you’re never sure who’s guilty even when the answer is staring at you in the face, kudos to a biased—especially if it doesn’t seem like a biased—point of view. I’m rereading the summary now and still shaking my head over how blindingly obvious it is.

    At the same time, once he’s discovered I found the actions of the guilty person sub-par. Considering how close he was to Nora, his about-face is rather sudden and a very large inconsistency in his character. Some might say that because of this he’s very well written concerning how complete his facade was before, but I thought it was rather poorly done, almost as if the author was on a deadline and hurrying towards the end.

    Often the hardest part of writing is descriptions, and the book fails on this point for me. While there’s no doubt that there are beautifully written picturesque as well as sinister depictions of Prague, the fact that they’re dropped on us as infodumps really sours the mood. Same goes with how we find out about the so-called secret societies, and it happens too often for my liking.

    The secret society villains were also kind of funny. Often I got the sense that whenever they appeared they were supposed to evoke a sense of breathless terror in the reader, but all I felt was disappointment that I couldn’t feel it, mostly because there was little-to-none and all-too-vague hints about them. They were too cartoony and cutboard-cutout bad guys for me.

    Overall I’m sure that if I’d read this at a younger age when I wasn’t the cynic I am today, I’m sure I would have enjoyed this better. As it stands The Book of Blood and Shadow is not too bad but not too good either. For new readers, I suggest trying out the Cold Awakening series by this author first because it's much better written.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013


    Or knife?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013


    Or dagga

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013


    Walks in and promptly falls asleep. Sneakshadow.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2013


    Help ive been hacked help plz i cant post more than once this stinks help!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013



    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Book Of Blood And Shadow By Robin Wasserman I am a Roman Ca

    The Book Of Blood And Shadow By Robin Wasserman

    I am a Roman Catholic, but I am by no means very active in my faith. With that being said, I truly enjoyed reading this book. I avoided
    reading The Da Vinci Code because I thought it would have a heavy religious presence. I was reading this book and was thinking this is
    probably similar to The Da Vinci Code and yet I am so hooked on Robin's book that I could barely put it down. The way she told this
    story kept you guessing and wondering about what exactly is the Lumen Dei and who could possibly be after them and willing to kill to
    get it.

    In the beginning of this story I wanted Chris to be with Nora but alas that was not meant to be. Chris ends up dating Adriane, making the
    duo a trio whom, become inseparable. That is until Nora meets (Chris' roommate) Max, while they are translating Latin manuscripts,
    and falls for him. The four friends seem to have it all until the night Chris is murdered.

    That night leaves Nora with one dead best friend, one friend who is catatonic, and one boyfriend missing and presumed the murderer.
    Now Nora is on a race against time to find her boyfriend, to prove his innocents, and find the real murdered of her best friend Chris
    before they all end up dead. Nora's search starts in Prague where mystery assailants dog Nora and Adriane at ever turn. But the more
    Nora finds out about the Lumen Dei the more Nora realizes for the sake of all humanity she must continue on her quest no matter what
    may happen.

    There is so much more I want to say but anything further would ruin this nail biting book for everyone. This truly was an amazing book.
    On a scale from 1-10 I give The Book Of Blood And Shadow a BIG HUGE 10. This book was extremely hard to put down and never
    disappointed me. I encourage everyone to run out and pick up a copy and help Nora track down Chris' killer and find out what the
    Lumen Dei really is.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    Loved it

    Really good read. I enjoyed the attention to detail and the historical fiction throughout the story line. Very well done. Little disappointed in the ending, but it's kind of left open for more so maybe it's not over yet. Recommend giving it a read. Reminds me of Celia Reese historical fiction and Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Da Vinci Code for Young Adults

    In The Book of Blood and Shadows we follow Nora as she recounts the events leading up to her best friends death and the days after where she and her friends seek to figure out the reasoning behind it. As her own boyfriend has fled the scene, he's seen as murder suspect number one and Nora tries to find him to prove his innocence. The mystery takes her to Prague to follow the storyline of the letters and manuscript that she and her friends have been working on at school. Trying to solve the mystery and find what the letters refer to bring about even greater mysteries.

    The mixture of the past and present in The Book of Blood and Shadows is really enjoyable. The past portions are conveyed through letters that Nora is working on translating and the conversations she has with the others about the letters and what they have figured out. It feels a bit like The Da Vinci Code for young adults. There is a secret society, you don't know who is good and who is bad, you've got murder, romance, and a mystery that isn't what it seems on the surface. That's a lot for one book to pull off and the author, Robin Wasserman, does a great job at it.

    The book goes back and forth in some of the things that have happened, our narrator, Nora, telling us about how things got to this point. There was never any confusion about when we were reading about. As far as the mystery goes, there were a number of things that I didn't see coming and I love to be surprised. Many YA books fall flat in this area of mysteries, but Wasserman treats the reader as an intelligent one and weaves her story and revelations in and out of the plot masterfully.

    The characters were all fully realized and complex on their own, but when brought together their relationships added another complexity that I didn't see coming either. All of these things put together make for a wonderful read and the time just flew by along with the pages.

    Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2012

    What I Liked: 1) I loved the way it began. "I guess I shoul

    What I Liked: 1) I loved the way it began. "I guess I should start with the blood." Robin Wasserman certainly knows how to grip you and pull you in from the very beginning. The first few chapters served as a great hook. 2) The mystery. I loved all the coded messages and the traveling, and how it was almost like a big scavenger hunt. There were all these great clues to follow, but first they had to figure out what each one meant. That was really an interesting twist. 3) Nora. She was smart, intuitive, and compassionate. She was an easy main character to like. It's always refreshing to see an MC with a quick mind who is eager to use it. 4) The setting. I loved the descriptive setting of this book, especially the parts that were set in Prague. I've never been though it's on my list of top five places to visit. Even though I haven't been there, the fantastic writing and descriptions I was easily able to picture everything and see the events in my mind as they were unfolding.

    What I Didn't Like: 1) Parts of the story were hard to follow. I don't know if it was because there were things I was unfamiliar with, or maybe the writing style just didn't jive with me. It's hard for me to get into a book when the story keeps getting interrupted because I don't understand or can't comprehend something. It was a little discouraging as a reader to need to re-read things, pulling myself out of the flow of the story. 2) The main guys. Max and Eli. I wanted to like them both. And there are times when you do, when you are almost there. But there is just something holding me back from liking them. Part of it was suspicion. That was good, because you are supposed to be suspicious of them. But there was just something missing from their development that kept the reader for completely falling for them.

    Overall thoughts: The Book of Blood and Shadow comes with an onslaught of information that can easily leave a reader confused and discouraged. It is smart and witty, but left a little to be desired from me as the reader. I needed more connection with the characters other than Nora, and something more succinct explanations of what all was happening. There is a great hook in the beginning, but I generally found that the rest of the story did not hold up. Readers will enjoy following along with Nora as she decodes messages and follows clues to answer the murder of her friend Chris and attempt to clear her boyfriend's name. There were definitely parts that intrigued me, but overall it just wasn't for me.

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  • Posted May 31, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Book of Blood and Shadow is a historical-murder case-with hi

    The Book of Blood and Shadow is a historical-murder case-with hints of magic involve. It talks about a young girl, Nora Kane, who lost her older brother tragically. Once she enters high school the only two people who can put her back together is her two new best friends: Chris & Adriane (who eventually become a couple).Then Nora gets her own boyfriend: Max. Everything seems to be going dandy. Nora is brilliant at Latin and spends her days (alongside Max & Chris) translating. More specifically Nora is translating Elizabeth Weston's (Historical person) diary entries to her brother. Soon an unsolved mystery is unravelled that is starting to mirror Nora's life and what is happening in the late 1500's is now happening in the twenty first century. Bad things are starting to happen: Chris ends up dead. Now it up to Nora, Adriane, Max & Eli to solve Chris's murder, unravel the mystery, figure out who Nora is and put an end to what is happening. All of this leads them to Prague.

    This novel has a brilliant plot concept. It part History and part magical fantasy. The author knows the past and it really shows in how she writes. It even states in her bio that she "once studied to be a historian". This isn't the authors first book. She wrote the Cold Awakening Trilogy & Chasing Yesterday Trilogy. Both of which I have not read yet, however I have on my tbr pile.

    As I read the novel I got to learn of Historical people that I had never once heard about (Elizabeth Weston, Edward Kelley, ect). The author states in her afterword section that "not much is known about Elizabeth Weston's youth" and "using my (her) imagination to fill in the blanks". Which I thought was pretty cool. I got to learn about people I have never heard about. To learn more, click here!!

    Robin Wasserman is an amazing author. I love her writing it is absolutely stunning. However even though the idea behind this novel was really good, I was not jumping up and down for joy about it. I did not hate it, however I did not love it either.

    It is fast pace and four hundred pages will go by in a jiffy, however I thought it was too long. It could of been shorter. The problem with The Book of Blood and Shadow is it has too much information. To much details a reader has to remember. So much details that I felt the imagery for setting and minor characters got over looked. It got confusing at times and I would easily forget the slightest details and then when it was mention a hundred pages later I would be like: what??

    There was too much telling then showing. I could not really get clear imagery of Prague. I just felt like a bunch of tourist names were listed off which made it hard for me to imagine them in a foreign country.

    I thought the character development for Nora was brilliant. That was where this book strive. Nora's loss of her old brother was really well done and you could definitely feel her pain. You could also really see the resemblances between her and Elizabeth. The translated diary entries were practically my favourite part of the novel. They intrigue me and kept me wanting more.

    The killer behind Chris's death was a little to obvious to me. It was not really hard to guess who did it. I was a bit annoyed with Nora's constant non acceptance of who could of killed Chris. However I guess if I was in that situation I would do the same.

    My absolute favourite part of the whole novel was : Eli & Nora's relationship. I absolutely loved how the two interacted. The dialogue between them was brilliant and how they slowly went from strangers to friends was awesome.

    Overall it was an okay read.

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  • Posted May 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is going to be a bummer review to write. It is with great s

    This is going to be a bummer review to write. It is with great sadness that I tell you I was unable to finish this book.

    No matter how hard I tried, I could not get into this book. The premise had promise (a book about a book!), it's a well-respected author, and I was excited for the release. But I just couldn't do it. Could barely get to page 100, which is my standard for giving a book a solid try. Really, if you can't hook me from the very first page or chapter, it will be hard to get me later on.

    So what went wrong? The writing was good enough, though I have not read anything else by Wasserman to compare it to. The characters were interesting, too, though I felt completely distanced from them right from the beginning. I think maybe there was just not enough action to start things off. The pace moved too slow. Or there wasn't enough exposition to keep me hooked on the Chris or Nora enough to care about them when there was the little bit of action that occurred. For such a lengthy book, I personally needed more to get me started than what was provided.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Please let me know!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2012

    I feel like I am going opposite of everyone else. I really enjoy

    I feel like I am going opposite of everyone else. I really enjoyed this book. Just like a lot of good books it takes a little bit before you really get into it but overall a good read. Loved the dialogue, great plot line. I was interested in the Alchemical part of it so maybe I am biased but I really enjoyed it. A little slow but overall a good read.

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  • Posted May 10, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This is one you have to take your time with and absorb to get th

    This is one you have to take your time with and absorb to get the full effect of. The characters were very compelling and moved the story along while the mystery kept me guessing what was going to happen next. I loved the rich history through out the novel. It's unique in its genre which could be part of why it's getting mixed reviews.

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    I wish I could say I loved this book. Believe me, I really wante

    I wish I could say I loved this book. Believe me, I really wanted to. Let's start with the fact that it took me the space of 8 days to actually read the whole book. By that I meant, it took me 8 days to get through 55 odd pages. After that, I spent one day powering through.

    The start was slow. I was bored from the beginning which was a bad indication. But after reading all the 5-star reviews, I just had to keep going.
    I loved all the characters from the start, mostly Elizabeth - the dead girl from the letters. But as the story continued, I just wanted to shake everyone. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THESE PEOPLE?!

    I haven't read the Da Vinci Code, although this book has been compared to it many times. Religion, mystery and all that jazz? Yep, this book certainly has it. I love my history, but the way it was gilded was too much for me. There is plenty of betrayal, and a killer ending, but unfortunately it wasn't enough for me.

    I wish I could write more for this review, but I really don't know what to say.

    But don't take my word for it, try reading it for yourselves!

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  • Posted April 28, 2012

    An enjoyable read, but one that was commonplace. My Overall Tho

    An enjoyable read, but one that was commonplace.

    My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: First off, I'd like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the e-galley to review in exchange for my honest opinion.

    I had heard a lot of really good things about this book and so I was really excited to read this one. However besides knowing that people seemed to love it, I went in not really knowing all too much about this novel.

    Although I might not have enjoyed this novel quite as much as other people I know, I will say that I really enjoyed this novel and am glad I read it. Robin's writing was incredible and she created a story that drew me in from the very beginning. Fans of suspense will love this novel.

    I found the premise of this novel very original and very intriguing and I will give it points for that. I also loved the character Eli, which is weird since I don't think you were supposed to. I also never like Max and I think you were supposed I must conclude I'm just weird.

    Anyway, I loved how Robin created her characters. They were all three dimensional and I loved reading about them. However, despite how well-written this book was, there was something missing to really make this one stand out to me. If you want to read an enjoyable book in one sitting, I wouldn't recommend this one. This one requires more of an investment, but one I think is worth it. In short, if you see this at the library, check this out you won't regret it.

    In Summary: An enjoyable novel, but one that I didn't absolutely love. Well-written, but it lacked something to make this really stand out.

    The Wrap-up: I enjoyed this novel and enjoyed Robin's writing style. I will definitely look into other books by this author. I didn't love this one, but it was enjoyable and I'm glad I read it.


    Danica Page

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  • Posted April 25, 2012

    This book fully lived up to its hype. Wow. The Davinci Code for

    This book fully lived up to its hype. Wow. The Davinci Code for teens? ABSOLUTELY. Full of mystery, murder, ancient latin letters, hidden clues, romance . . . this story will keep you turning pages right up until the end. I loved it.

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