The Blessing Way

Bibliographic Information 

Paperback: $24.81 , HarperTorch (2002)

Hardcover:

Kindle: $9.99, 304 pages, HarperCollins (2009)

Joe Leaphorn Mysteries: $18, 499 pages, Wings Books (1992)

Audiobook: $17.95, 6,5 hours, Audible

 

  • ISBN-10: 051707771X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517077719
  • ASIN: B00XV4MBE0

9780061000010
9780061808357 — Paperback
9780606161749 — Glued Binding
9780914001133 — Hardcover
9780922890095 — Hardcover
9781442079977 — Glued Binding
9780061795206
9780060548131
9780816154319 — Paperback
9780914001140 — Hardcover
9780380399413 — Paperback
9780922890118 — Hardcover
9780816154302 — Hardcover

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

Readers Annotation

A Navajo Wolf (witch) stalks the reservation in this Joe Leaphorn mystery.

Summary

Joe Leaphorn is looking for a Navajo man, Luis Horseman, when his friend Bergen McKee comes to the reservation. The two travel to Shoemaker’s to ask about Horseman. At the shop Leaphorn tells the people it would be better for Horseman to come out so Law and Order didn’t have to go in looking for him. 

McKee has come to the reservation to research Navajo Wolves, witches who may be on the reservation. The wolves are said to have cursed the Tsosie family, Horseman’s mother’s family. 

Horseman’s body is found on the side of the road.  It looks like he was drunk and for caught in a cave- in, but the medical examiner said the was no alcohol in his blood and he suffocated. 

McKee leaves Leaphorn to meet with his friend and colleague Canfield to research. They camp in a canyon. The next day McKee goes to meet with Leaphorn to discuss the case. Leaphorn has learned that the Tsosie family are going to have an Enemy Way ceremony. He decides to go and talk with Horseman’s family. McKee goes back to his campsite. 

When McKee gets back to the site he finds Canfield missing. The camper and Canfield’s truck are gone.  There is a note in their tent saying he went to get a Navajo help signed John.  Canfield’s first name is Jeremy.  McKee is then on high alert and hides in the shadows.  Someone is stalking him in the night. 

Meanwhile,  Leaphorn goes to the Enemy Way ceremony and speaks with the shaman, who concludes that while Leaphorn may know the Navajo way he does not believe it.  Leaphorn learns that Billy Nez (Horseman’s brother) has tracked the “witch.” Billy provided the “scalp” of the witch to be used in the ceremony, a hat.  Leaphorn realizes the heat belongs to the big Navajo that was at Shoemaker’s the other day. 

The next day,  McKee waits for Canfield’s assistant to come so that they can go get help.  He fell during the night,  injuring himself and giving himself a bedraggled appearance.  When the assistant Ellen Leon shows up he tries to convince her to leave and get help,  but his appearance makes her suspicious and afraid and thus they get caught by the big Navajo after finding Canfield’s body. 

The big Navajo wants McKee to write a letter saying he and Canfield are moving their camp. McKee cannot write the letter because he damaged his hand. The big Navajo moves them to the Anasazi ruins. The big Navajo’s partner Eddie meets them at the ruins.

Leaphorn thinks he’s figured out the case and sets about tracking the big Navajo’s truck. Some things don’t add up to his theory and he must reconsider. 

McKee tries to think of how to escape. He finds an escape tunnel out of the hole he and Ellen have been put in.  He plans abs eventually takes out Eddie. Ellen had been shot so he tries to find help but the big Navajo finds him first and shoots him. McKee hides under a tree and fashions a means to fight back.  He ends up killing the big Navajo. He drags himself to the man in the desert,  but the man was part of the crime ring. Luckily Leaphorn arrives to arrest the man,  who then committed suicide. 

Evaluation

I liked this book. Its an easy and interesting read. I don’t feel like I got a good feel for Joe Leaphorn, so I might pick up the next book in the series. 

Genre

Western, Mystery

Readalikes

Coyote Wind by Peter Bowen

The Shaman Sings by James D Doss

Significance

Mysteries set in modern Navajo culture. Characters steeped in a culture unfamiliar to most readers.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Discuss Navajo beliefs and the impact of the white man on their culture. 

What do we think about the Enemy Way ceremony? 

Would Horseman have been safe if Leaphorn hadn’t talked to the big Navajo? 

Talk about the idea of the Navajo Wolf. 

Author’s website

Harper Collins site for Tony Hillerman

Awards

None?

Reviews

Kirkus

Amazon

Why I Chose It

I wanted a Western and I loved the idea of having it set in Native culture. It was also a MUST READ in Genreflecting.

Other Information

Boxers and Saints

boxers-and-saints

Bibliographic Information 

Paperback: (both) $22.81, 512 pages, First Second (2013)

(book 1)$15.28, 336 pages, First Second (2013)

(book 2) $13.05, 176 pages, First Second (2013)

Library Binding: (book 1) $31.80, 336 pages, Turtleback Books (2013)

(book 2) $28.15, 176 pages, Turtleback Books (2013)

Kindle: (both) $17.99, 512 pages, First Second (2013)

(book 1 & 2) $9.99, 336 pages, First Second (2013)

 

  • ISBN-10: 1596439246
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596439245
  • ISBN-10: 060632304X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0606323048
  • ISBN-10: 1596433590
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596433595
  • ISBN-10: 1596436891
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596436893
  • ISBN-10: 0606323058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0606323055

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 4P

Readers Annotation

Both sides of the Boxer Rebellion portrayed in graphic format.

Summary

Boxers is the story of Little Bao and his journey through the Boxer Rebellion. Little Bao loved the opera as a child and would sit with the god’s idol. When Christians come through the town they destroy the idol and yell at the people. Bao’s father goes with a few villagers to talk to the Emperor but they are attacked on the road. Bao’s father is never the same. A warrior by the name of Red Lantern comes to the village and soon starts to teach the boys kung-fu. Bao learns at night. Red Lantern leaves with Bao’s two brothers and another villager on a mission for the Brotherhood of the Fist and sends Bao to the Fat Man. Bao listens to the Fat Man for a while, but soon he angers the man and leaves his studies. His brothers and the other boy come back without Red Lantern and Bao rushes off to the Fat Man to steal his sword. When he takes the sword the Fat Man dies and Bao becomes one with the warriors of China’s past.

Bao teaches his brothers and the other boys the ritual to become the embodiment of a great warrior and they attack the imperial troops sent after the boys. They continue across the land killing “Foreign Devils.” At first Bao does not want to kill the “secondary devils” but when they do not renounce their faith he has all but the women and children slaughtered.

The historical Chinese warrior that Bao has communed with does not like his mercy and insists that Bao should have killed them all.

The troop stays in a village for some time, and gain an ally in Mei-wen when they save her from some renegade “secondary devils.” The boys eventually leave after Bao’s spirit warrior convinces him he’s becoming weak staying here with Mei-wen and the village gets attacked. They leave Mei-wen behind.

The Brotherhood starts to terrorize the countryside until the come upon a big town. Bao hastily attacks without a plan and his warriors start to fall around him. He get seriously injured but just when all seems lost, Mei-wen and her women warriors (red lanterns) show up and take out the rest of the town. Once the groups have healed they decide to move on to Peking.

In Peking the Brotherhood and the Red Lanterns, hold up in a prince’s stronghold. Soon enough the war within Peking starts. The Boxers are trapped and the only way Bao can think of to get the drop on the Christians is by burning down the library. Mei-wen begs him not to, but he does anyway. As soon as the dust settles the Boxers are wiped out by troops behind them.

Saints- follows Vibiana, a Christian convert. Vibiana was called Four-girl by her family and told that she was a devil. So she embraced that she was a devil and started to make faces. Her family sent her to an acupuncturist and while there she saw a crucifix. When she went home she learned about “foreign devils” and decided that was the way to become and even worse devil, so she decided to learn how to be a “foreign devil.” She starts learning about Christianity. She hexes her Grandfather and then he dies. She asks the priest if its possible to be forgiven and he says it is if she gets baptized. Over time and education she becomes a true believer.

Vibiana starts seeing Joan of Arc and wonders what her purpose is. She runs away from home and follows her priest to a large town. She briefly decides to marry a boy before deciding she’s going to be a warrior. That’s when Bao and his army attack. Bao meets Vibiana in a alley and tells her to renounce her faith. She refuses. She asks him to wait for her to pray before he kills her. He does.

The end of the tail has Bao coming out of the slaughter of his troops to be spotted by Christians who accuse him of being a Boxer. He prays a little to convince them he’s not and escapes with one of his brothers.

Evaluation

I liked these two books. They weren’t the most compelling books, but they did give an interesting pair of perspectives on a single event in history. I like the dual timelines and how they met up and affected one another. I did think that Bao went about things wrong (they were thugs and murderers) but had the right ideas (imperialism, being sucked up into another culture and losing your own is bad). Vibiana was a more sympathetic character, and a more compelling journey.

I think the plot worked for the most part. There were times when I thought it could move along, and times where I wish there was more, but for the most part it worked for me.

I think the two characters that were three dimensional were Bao and Vibiana. We knew them, we connected with them and mostly understood why they did the things they did. I think Vibiana was a more real character than Bao, but perhaps that’s because I didn’t entirely understand his POV or the actions he took. The setting was a little vague. I think it was mostly the sparse backgrounds of the art, but sometimes I didn’t feel like I was in China, it just didn’t work all the time. The action was stiff, but that was the style of art.

I didn’t really get emotionally invested in this story. I had problems with how and why Bao did things, and I think the Christians were shone in a little too nice a light. Vibiana’s journey, however, was compelling and I wish she had a better ending.

This is great for a Young Adult audience. Its a good doorway to the Boxer Rebellion and Chinese history altogether. Its not too deep or fact driven, but it does give them the idea behind the rebellion and both sides of the story.

Flaws? Sometimes the art took me out of it. I just wish there was a little more detail in the backgrounds. I also wanted a bit more from the Christian side of the tale. I feel like it was slightly unbalanced.

There really aren’t any books in YA on the Boxer Rebellion so I don’t think this could replace, or be replaced by anything.

Genre

Nonfiction-History, Graphic Novels

Readalikes

Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Significance

A graphic novel depicting the Boxer Rebellion. You don’t see a lot of material (especially material for Young Adults) on the Boxer rebellion. Its a unique topic and a unique way of telling the story (from both sides).

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Talk about what we know about the Boxer rebellion vs what the books tell us about the Boxer rebellion.

What would you do in Bao’s situation?

Were the Christian’s right to change the culture and religion of the Chinese?

Does the style of art fit the story?

Author’s website

Gene Luen Yang

Awards

Booklist Editor’s Choice-Books for Youth-Older Readers Category: 2013, Conflicted: Life During Wartime (2014), LA Times Book Prizes: Young Adult Literature, School Library Journal Best Books: 2013, YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens: 2014

Reviews

Kirkus

NY TIMES

Amazon

Why I Chose It

Book Talk book. But an interesting take on the Boxer Rebellion showing both sides of the conflict. Nonfiction Graphic Novels.

Other Information

Devil in Silver

Bibliographic Information 

Paperback: $9.87, 432 pages, Spiegel & Grau (2013)

Hardcover: $9, 432 pages, Spiegel & Grau (2012)

Kindle: $11.99, 434 pages, Spiegel & Grau (2012)

Audiobook: $29.99, Dreamscape Media (2012)

  • ISBN-10: 1400069866
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069866
  • ISBN-10: 0812982258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812982251
  • ISBN-10: 1611208564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611208566

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

Readers Annotation

Pepper has been confined in a mental institution and must now fight the devil.

Summary

Pepper has been dragged to a mental institution after assaulting three police officers. They lock him up for a 72 hour watch. He gets questioned by a disinterested panel of doctors and nurses and then shuffled off to a room. He meets Dory, a patient who was the first person on the ward, in the hallway and she explains the situation in the ward. She tells Pepper what each hallway is, and where not to go.

In the morning Pepper is required to take meds which dull his senses. Pepper keeps questioning staff about why he is there and keeps trying to figure out a way out. One night he sees the Devil drop from the ceiling and it assaults him. He sees a chance when Loochie (a teenage inmate) is escorting her family out of the mental ward. Pepper makes a break for it when the door opens, knocking over Loochie’s family (and a nurse), but he does not escape because Loochie tackles him.

Pepper spends a few days doped up in his room and when he finally comes to he discovers that he has “admitted” himself to the ward. Pepper joins the “book club” and teams up with Dory, Loochie and Coffee (his roommate). He learns about the Devil and the group decide to read “Jaws.” The group tries to decide on a plan to take out the Devil and stop taking their meds, but each member of the crew has their own ideas. Dory wants to talk to the Devil, Coffee wants to call the president about the situation in the institution, Pepper wants to escape and Loochie wants to kill the Devil. The group stashes the night nurses in a room. Coffee makes his call and gets upset that it doesn’t work, Dory and Pepper are fighting and Loochie lets out the Devil. The Devil attacks Loochie, Pepper attacks the Devil and Dory yells at all of them. Coffee goes to stab the Devil and Dory attacks him just as the SWAT team breaks into the institution. They shoot Coffee (a lot).

After a long period of restraints and over medication, Pepper finally regains his faculties. He decides to keep his head down in an effort to get out. He avoids Loochie and Dory and starts hanging out with the night crew. There he falls for Sue (Xiu).

One night Loochie and Dory get in a fight which allows Sue to sneak into Pepper’s room. After, they see the Devil try to take the man across the hall and stop it.

Sue is taken the next day to start the deportation process.

Dory approaches Pepper the morning Sue is taken and gives him a note saying she was wrong and that he should help the Devil. When she goes out for the smoke break she climbs the fence and steps off, killing herself.

While the police are cleaning up Dory, the inmates are taken out of the hospital to a pizza place. Loochie and Pepper reconnect, and Pepper tells her to remember the path from the bus stop to the mental institution, implying they would escape.

The inmates plan an escape through the hidden doors in every room, and one night they do. As they proceed to follow the map that Dory had drawn, they turn on one another when confronted with what to do with the devil. One of the inmates swallows the key to the Devil’s room. Loochie and Pepper sneak off. Pepper helps Loochie escape and then goes back to the group. Some of the group had killed the inmate who swallowed the key as the others watched in horror. They opened the Devil’s room and he came for them. Several inmates get hurt and some die and Pepper realizes the Devil is just a man and protects him.

In the aftermath, the Devil goes to the hospital, and Pepper starts to greet new residents just like Dory did.

Evaluation

I liked this book. It kept me guessing. At one point in time I was sure that the Devil was going to be just in the minds of the inmates. It also made me appalled about mental hospitals.

This book was well written and plotted. While the narrative could be deceptive and the reader couldn’t really guess where it was going, it had a clear path and didn’t deviate.

The characters were mostly three dimensional. They were three dimensional if they needed to be. Characters that were part of Pepper’s story were fleshed out, but others like Scotch Tape were not as three dimensional because they didn’t need to be. We knew what Pepper was going through (and were horrified by it), we  eventually understood Dory and felt for poor Sue. The setting was truly horrifying and was a terrible character in itself. The action was thrilling and terrifying.

I found myself on the edge of my seat the whole ride. I found myself gasping several times and shed a tear for Sue and Pepper at the end. It wasn’t an emotional ride the whole way, but there were times when I really felt the story.

I think this is a great book for its audience (Adult horror readers). It has some really great psychological horror that digs deep in your psyche. It has a compelling monster and horrendous setting and enough action to keep the reader going.

I might replace this one with Shutter Island. They both have a psychological horror, but of different types.

Genre

Horror, Psychological Suspence

Readalikes

End of Watch by Stephen King

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

The Dark Room by Minette Walters

Significance

A one of a kind premise that seems supernatural that turns out not to be. A unique look at the patients of a mental institution whose horrors are not only monsters, but the system itself.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What do you think it meant that the patients saw the Devil as a Devil but the staff did not?

What would you have done in Josephine’s situation after the first revolt?

Do you think that the support for the mentally ill is satisfactory today?

Discuss experiences with people with mental disabilities.

Author’s website

Victor LaValle

Awards

New York Times Notable Book (2012), Top 10 Book of 2012

Reviews

Kirkus

Amazon

Publishers Weekly

Why I Chose It

Book Talk book, but also what an intriguing idea! The summary really drew me in and I wanted to know if it was a literal or figurative devil.

Other Information

 

Maus: a Survivor’s Tale

maus

Bibliographic Information 

Paperback: (book 1) $9.49, 159 pages, Pantheon (1986)

(book 2) $9.49, 144 pages, Pantheon (1992)

Library Binding: (book 2) $23.47, 136 pages, Turtleback (1992)
(book 1) $22.91, 159 pages, Turtleback (1986)

25th Anniversay: $20.83, 295 pages, Pantheon (1996)

  • ISBN-10: 0679406417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679406419
  • ISBN-10: 0394747232
  • ISBN-13:978-0394747231
  • ISBN-10: 0808598538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0808598534
  • ISBN-10: 1417816422
  • ISBN-13: 978-1417816422
  • ISBN-10: 0679729771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679729778

9780679406419
9780394747231 — Paperback
9780679748403 — Paperback
9780808598534 — Glued Binding
9781435262355 — Glued Binding
9780606241816 — Glued Binding

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 4P

Readers Annotation

Vladek Spiegelman’s tale of survival in Nazi invaded Poland, Auschwitz and his life after.

Summary

This is the story of how Vladek Spiegelman survived Poland and Auschwitz during World War II. This is also a story of a son dealing with his father in his later years as he tries to write a book about his father’s story.

Vladek Spiegelman first tells of his time in Czestochowa before he met Art’s mother Anja and the woman he was seeing. He talks about their courtship and marriage. The couple moved to Sosnowiec to be by Anja’s family. Anja and Vladek have a son, but Anja suffers postpartum depression and the couple go to a sanitarium. When they return Vladek is drafted and then captured. He is put into a work camp where his smarts help him survive. He is released but then must sneak back to Sosnowiec across the border.

Sosnowiec soon falls prey to antisemitic feelings and the Spiegelman’s find themselves in the Ghetto. The family starts falling apart. First the grandparents are taken and never seen again. Then the children are sent off, and later die by poison. The family hides in many bunkers as the Ghetto keeps getting cleared out. Vladek works deals where he can to keep the family fed, until they are inevitably caught. Vladek’s father, sister and her children are separated. We learn they are killed. Anja and Vladek are separated from the rest of their family and run. They end up at a farm but move to a home and then back to the barn. They try to arrange an escape to Hungary, but their smugglers had set them up and they are sent to Auschwitz.

Vladek and Anja are split up, Vladek is in Auschwitz while Anja is in Birkenau. In Auschwitz, Vladek uses his smarts and knowledge of language to help him get in the good graces of a guard before he is turned into a tin worker. He talks about the people being chosen for the ovens, how they were starving, and how the Nazi’s kept food away from the prisoners. He recounts how near the end of it all he contracted Tuberculous and nearly died. He talks about disassembling the chimneys of Auschwitz and the uncertainty at the end of it all. The Nazi’s gathered those who were left and sent them on a train to be handed over, the uncertainty if they were to have survived the horrors of the camp only to be shot so close to the end, and their inevitable freedom. The book ends with Vladek and Anja reuniting and a drawing of their tombstones.

While Vladek is recounting his tale, we see his relationship with his son Art and his wife Mala. We learn that Anja had committed suicide, which had ruined both Vladek and Art. We see how eventually Mala leaves Vladek, Art struggling to complete Maus, and Vladek’s inevitable decline in health.

Evaluation

This was by far one of the best graphic novels I’ve read. It was moving, raw and visceral. The story that Vladek (and by extension Art) weave is terrifyingly real and mesmerizing. It is a unique first hand account of the horrors of the Holocaust told through the son of the man who lived it.

The plot of telling Vladek’s story can be disjointed at times, but Vladek’s story itself is cruelly vivid and put together.

Vladek is three dimensional in both his past and present (then) representations. We can see why he was the way he was during his ordeal and how that carried over into his life after. We see that Art has a hard time with his father and doesn’t really grasp the ordeal that he went through while he blames his father for his mother’s suicide. We see how frustrated Mala, Art and Francoise are by Vladek in his current form and how no one seems to be able to deal with what he’s become.

I admit I felt this story deeply and may have shed a tear at the end of it all. I also felt anger towards Art’s treatment of his father through most of the story. I get that his father was frustrating, but after such a horrible trial wouldn’t anyone come out slightly broken? And to keep asking about it just didn’t sit right.

This definitely works for its audience (Young Adults and Adults). Its a good intro into the Holocaust while not being overly graphic and tells a first had account. It is easily accessible and would not be hard to convince young adults to try.

I couldn’t pick a better title if I tried.

I don’t know if there’s a better title to fit into the spot that Maus has. Its one of a kind. While there are other titles in Graphic Novels and Historical or Biography, none of them deal with the Holocaust like Maus. I’d say this could potentially take the place of another biography of a holocaust survivor.

As for flaws, perhaps just the way that Vladek is depicted in his future self.

Genre

Historical Graphic Novel, Biography

Readalikes

Auschwitz by Miklos Nyiszli

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

The Boxer by Reinhard Kleist

Significance

The first graphic novel to get a Pulitzer. A black and white biography told by the son of the man who went through these experiences. A unique and horrifying story of a holocaust survivor.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What do you think about Art’s treatment of his father and his story?

What part stuck with you?

How is Vladek’s experience different from other stories of the Holocaust that you’ve read?

Was the medium appropriate for the subject matter?

Author’s website

Art Spiegelman’s Facebook

Awards

1992 Pulitzer Prize, Eisner Award (1992), Time’s Top 10 Graphic Novels, All-TIME 100 Nonfiction Books, American Book Awards (1992), Harvey Award (1992)

Reviews

Kirkus (book 2)

Amazon

Why I Chose It

Maus is a classic graphic novel. Its a biography about the author’s father’s experience in the holocaust. It won a Pulitzer Prize. Its a graphic novel everyone should read.

Other Information

The Lost Symbol

Bibliographic Information 

Kindle: $9.99

Hardcover: $20.36, 658 pages, Anchor (2009)

Paperback: $12.67, 624 pages, Anchor (2012)

Audiobook: $12, 18 hours, Random House Audio (2009)

Random House LLC

9780385504225
9781400079148 — Paperback
9780375434525 — Paperback
9780307950680 — Paperback
9780385533829 — Hardcover
9780385533836 — Paperback
9780385533133
9780385534505
9780593054277 — Hardcover

0739319175

978-0739319178 — Audiobook

Rating (VOYA)

3Q, 4P

Readers Annotation

Robert Langdon has been drawn into a mystery by his mentor in Washington D.C.

Summary

Robert Langdon receives a call and text from his old friend and mentor Peter Solomon (a 33rd degree Mason) saying he needs to come to Washington D.C. that night and do a speech. He rushes to board the private plane to help his friend, bringing with him a mysterious package Peter had given to him years ago. When he arrives he discovers there is no lecture, there was no assistant and that his friend’s mutilated hand has been put on display in the Capitol Rotunda.

The evil Mal’akh has been planning and waiting for this night for a long time. He is a master of disguise and snuck in to plant the hand in the Rotunda before escaping. He had already disguised himself as a Doctor Abbadon earlier in the day and talked to Peter’s sister Katherine, convincing her she was her brother’s therapist and that he was concerned for him.

The Capitol security come to contain the situation in the Rotunda and the head of the CIA’s Office of Security Sato shows up to take over. With the security chief and Sato, Langdon deciphers the markings on his friend’s severed hand and they head to the sub basement for the next clue. They discover a Masonic pyramid minus capstone in the sub basement office. Sato confronts Langdon about what’s in his bag, but Langdon escapes with the help of Warren Bellamy to the Library of Congress.

Mal’akh convinces Katherine to invite him to her secret Noetics lab in Pod 5 of the Smithsonian. He murders her assistant, tries to murder Katherine and then blows up her lab. Katherine escapes and heads to rendezvous with Langdon.

Mal’akh has connections to the Solomons. He was with Peter’s son (the black sheep Zachary) in a Turkish prison and arranged to have him killed. He then murdered Peter and Katherine’s mother. He spent the years between then and now researching and tattooing himself in preparation of this night.

Katherine meets up with Langdon and Bellamy at the library. Katherine and Langdon escape via conveyor belt. They then hop a cab. They trick the CIA into thinking their going to Alexandria but they go elsewhere. They figure out most of the pyramid before being captured by the CIA.

They learn that Peter is “fine” at home and safe and the CIA thinks that Mal’akh is headed elsewhere. Katherine and Langdon are captured at Mal’akh’s home. Langdon is made to think he’s going to drown and Katherine is almost bled out, they reveal all the secrets of the pyramid to Mal’akh. They are both rescued by the CIA.

Mal’akh turns out to be Zachary Solomon (he faked his death), he threatens to expose government officials doing a Masonic ritual and tries to get his father to murder him. The CIA arrive and stop everything, though Zachary gets killed in the process.

The secret ends up being a bible in the cornerstone of the Washington Monument.

Evaluation

I hated this book. Every minute of it. This book is full of cliches, stuffed full of “facts,” is written with an air of haughty smugness from the author (see how much I know, how much smarter than you I am?), is full of unlikable (and stupid for all their “brilliance”) characters and so many plot twists that the plot is barely discernible. It just seemed like the whole time Dan Brown was sitting behind a keyboard thinking “how can I show these people how much more I know than them?” This book is stuffed full of stuff. So many references to different items, places, “history,” religion, conspiracy, and “information” that any plot can get sidelined by Brown telling the audience about some painting or thing that used to be in a building or the history of Shriners (which wasn’t even important!). I have so many negative feelings about this book, I’m going to try to repress them from here on.

The plot was overall simple: stop the bad guy from doing the thing, but all the little details and side plots really convoluted it all. The characters were all pretty three dimensional. We got all sorts of details about every thing in their lives that even remotely related to the “mystery.” We could really get a feel for them, but they all were really stupid during the whole of the plot. (Katherine, if you know your brother doesn’t know how to text and that you’re doing secret research that only three people should know, why do you think its him texting you and telling you to let this guy you didn’t even know existed until earlier that day in to your super secret lab? Why does Langdon trust and then distrust every person he encounters? Doesn’t anyone know that you don’t tell the bad guy threatening you anything? He’s going to kill you anyway, why give him what he wants?)

This clearly works for its intended audience. The people who loved the DaVinci Code picked this up, stuck with it and then went on to the next book in the series. Its relatively entertaining if you can turn off your brain and deal with the sheer amount of STUFF.

Oh I think there are a lot of flaws with this book. Supposedly smart people acting stupid in situations they shouldn’t be, an over-the-top bad guy, science/magic, ALL THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES!!!!, the muddled story, the stupid chapter endings where he makes you wait two pages (aka another chapter) for the STUNNING REALIZATION, the tiny chapters, and the crazy coincidences.  Its all so much. Too much.

If I were to be facetious I’d say a good alternate title would be: ALL THE CONSPIRACIES ARE REAL! but I’m not being facetious. Perhaps: The Mystery’s Key, or something.

I would never replace a book with this book.

On a good note, because everything should end on a good note, the audio book was actually pretty well done. I hated the book, and wasn’t too fond of the narrator’s “woman” voice, but for the most part it was a really good rendition of the book.

Genre

Suspense and Thriller

Readalikes

The Camel Club by David Baldacci

The Devil Colony by James Rollins

The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry

Significance

There is no significance to this book. Its not the first of its kind, or unique or worthy of distinction. The characters aren’t unusual and the setting’s been used before.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Could science ever reach the point that it seems like magic?

Discuss conspiracy theories around Masons and ponder their truth.

What sort of conspiracies would you have liked to have seen involved in the story?

Which character had the correct idea?

Author’s website

Dan Brown

Awards

Was the fastest selling adult novel (2009), New York Times Best Seller.

Reviews

Amazon

NY Times

Why I Chose It

It was picked for class by another group, but it was a thriller and I probably thought I should not judge Dan Brown without reading him.

Other Information