Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: 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.
I read the description for this book MONTHS ago, which of course means that by the time the book came out, I ordered it from the library, and held the copy in my hand, I had no idea as to what I was getting into. And this one was certainly a more complicated story than I was expecting (in a good way)!
Nora’s part of a group of students working to translate Latin documents with her best friend Chris and boyfriend Max. Their activities are horrifically disrupted when she finds Chris brutally murdered, his girlfriend Adriane alive but entirely devoid of life, and Max missing. When the police turn to Max as their principal suspect and Nora begins receiving mysterious notes from him, she and Adriane end up in Prague, chasing any clues that could lead them to Max. They end up finding a world of secret religious societies, death, and a Divine machine that could end up costing them their lives.
Robin Wasserman seriously did the damn thing when it came to The Book of Blood and Shadow. This book was incredibly written--I can’t even imagine the amount of research that must have gone into writing this book. I definitely sensed a more literary vibe from it. I’m not sure if that was due to the complexity of the story or Nora’s maturity, but regardless this book demands respect.
I felt that the characters in the story were unlike anything I’ve seen in young adult fiction to date. Nora was an incredibly mature protagonist without having to constantly tell us that she was mature. She keeps everyone, including the reader, at a distance--while reading I was privy to her thoughts (the book is in first person), but I felt like she wasn’t a total open book. To create a more closed off character without actually alienating the reader is quite impressive.
I think one of the reasons that The Book of Blood and Shadow is so utterly different from other books out there is the fact that Nora and Adriane end up on an epic quest that isn’t spurred by their discovery of supernatural abilities (unless you count Nora’s Latin-to-English translating, that is) or any sort of paranormal activity. I found that the entire plot was made scarier by the fact that every character, being wholly human, was incredibly vulnerable to the very real danger surrounding them.
Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow was a fantastically complicated, dangerous mystery with a historical background story woven in through translated letters. Who killed Chris? Why is there a secret society gunning for a bunch of teenage Latin translators? Can Nora trust anyone around her? The mysteries are all unraveled in this awesome book.
Rating: 5 - absolutely fantastic