Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Received: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.
Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.
High expectations are a very bad thing
That cover had me trained like one of Pavlov's dogs. Every time I saw that beautiful picture I was immediately gripped by the burning desire to read the book. And the blurb! Historical fiction with political intrigue, mummies, and curses! GIVE ME THAT BOOK! So I could barely contain myself when I got an ARC.
And then...oooh, I couldn't wait for the book to be over. Talk about a 180.
Where is the adventurous girl I was promised?
Agnes kept finding herself in positions where she could have been KICK BUTT, but she either 1) Went on a feminist rant, 2) Went on a "We need to respect foreign cultures" rant, or 3) Did something unbelievably stupid. Sometimes she combined responses. I hate to say it, but Agnes wasn't very bright.
(and, ok, I'm all for the equality of the sexes and respect and all that, but I don't want to be lectured about it. Again, and again.)
You know how in horror movies the girl you know is going to die expends all her energy running in exactly the wrong direction and doing the exact wrong thing? But you also know that if she wasn't Too Stupid To Live that there wouldn't be any movie. That's Agnes!
Except she doesn't die, unfortunately.
In the situations described, there is one clear, perfect, absolutely right response. But if Agnes did this, then there would be no book. So of course she doesn't do it (and her reason for not doing it is the equivalent of a child stomping her foot, pouting, and deciding to do things HER way. Even though her way is dumb).
Oh yeah, and she also randomly recites Jane Austen quotes in various languages as a sort of nervous tick. Who the heck does that???
Who's the whining child now? That would be me. Because I got a plot that bored me to tears. Agnes and Caedmon (her romantic interest) spend a ton of time sleuthing, except...they don't actually do anything. The bulk of the fun detective work and research goes on behind the scenes. Every once in a while there's a convoluted info-dump about the Rosetta Stone or Ancient Egypt that somehow conveniently gives them all their answers but doesn't actually make a lot of sense, at least to me.
And all that time spent together conducting secret research and only the barest, tiniest, miniscule tingling of swoon? Tragic! Caedmon had the potential to be a great love interest, but he wasn't developed enough for me.
Oh, and the villain? *groan* Super obvious from the start.
Are you a stickler for accuracy?
If you are, then get your eye twitch ready. There are so many historical inaccuracies here. Honestly, I would have overlooked them if the plot and characters were better. Wrapped is very "historical fiction lite" with the focus more on the adventure than the history. As long as you know not to expect historical accuracy, then I don't think this should be a major hindrance.
What DID bother me a lot is the description of a certain object's mechanism that plays a crucial role in the climax, but doesn't actually make any sense AT ALL. Those objects don't work like that and the way the author describes it not only isn't accurate to the object, but it isn't accurate to PHYSICS. To pin the entire (beyond predictable) climax on NONSENSE was just the final straw of stupidity for me.
If that wasn't bad enough, I'm expected to swallow the most absurd ending ever. Ok, sure, Agnes (who was completely blind to the obvious villain and consistently failed to come to logical conclusions) was able to put together a mystery that had stymied Napoleon (and all of France), England, and Ancient Egypt (that's three countries). And then she's enlisted by England to be an elite super spy??? Suuuurrre.
Recommendations and why I didn't just DNF
Simply put, I kept reading because I just don't learn. After half a book of Great Set Up and then STUPID RESPONSE, I should have figured that pretty much every great set up would be followed by a stupid response, right? Only I didn't. I kept holding out hope that each new awesome set up would be met with an equally awesome response. Because, the thing is, this book really does have a boat load of potential.
I do think younger readers would enjoy Wrapped a lot more. The historical inaccuracies, TSTL qualities, and Agnes's naivete probably wouldn't bother them as much. The "flatness" of the characters is also better suited for a younger audience. Older readers who don't have such high expectations as I had (mine were sky high) will also probably like this more than I did. Really, I think what it will all boil down to is whether or not you click with Agnes. Obviously, I did not.
Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key
Do you have any questions about Wrapped that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!
Feel free to ask in the comments!
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