Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Atheneum
Pages: 320
Received: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


From Goodreads:

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???

I'm booooorrrreeeddd

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!

Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 

Click on the cover to go to my review.


  1. I think my expectations weren't as high as yours because I thought it was for younger YA anyway. I also loved Agnes' Austen tick-I think that is so cool even if I don't buy Agnes' proficiency in all of those languages.

  2. Goodness, Small, you make me happy I didn't try and read this one when it was avaiable from Galley Grab. I'm sorry it was such a big disappointment.

  3. "Oh yeah, and she also randomly recites Jane Austen quotes in various languages as a sort of nervous tick. Who the heck does that???"
    LOL! Giving this one a miss, despite the pretty cover. Thanks for the review!

  4. Your reviews always give me such a good idea of exactly what to expect from a book. And in this case, I can tell I wouldn't like this one at all. The historical inaccuracies wouldn't bother me so much because I am no history buff but the inaccuracy in the Physics would drive me crazy. Also, I'm pretty sure I would be highly annoyed with Agnes' character. I think you're right in thinking this one might be more suited to a younger audience.

  5. LOL, this one sounds like a groaner. It's so frustrating when there's a really clear, smart option for the heroine to choose and she does the exact opposite. From the sound of it she would grate on my nerves as well. (I admit to quoting Jane Austen lines upon occasion, but *not* as a nervous tic and only in English! Austen is too awesome to not quote sometimes :D).

    Historical inaccuracies don't bug me that much if they're not major and there's still a good story being told. But it sounds like that wasn't happening here, sadly :( I'm sorry this one was so disappointing for you!

  6. Sorry to hear this one didn't live up to your expectations! It's disappointing when a book has a great plot but doesn't live up to its potential. I think the heroine would irritate me too.

  7. The cover IS gorgeous! I would have bought the book just to have that on my shelf :) I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one, and I don't think I'll be trying it out anytime soon. All the points you made were things that would annoy the heck out of me while reading. Thanks for your honest review!

  8. Oh that sucks. I think from what I have read in your review this book would annoy me too in parts. Such a shame because it has a beautiful artwork cover. Great honest review though Small :)

  9. That's too bad! I love the cover too. :(

  10. Aww, it sucks when a book has tons of potential but it doesn't work out in the end.

    I loved this cover too, but I don0t think I'll be reading it :P

  11. I snagged this one from Galley Grab because of the pretty cover and because I think I saw it featured on your blog, but just couldn't get into it and had to make it a DNF. So glad I didn't miss anything special :)

  12. Bookworm1858, My expectations really were super high. I had hyped it up so much and I think that’s part of the reason I was so disappointed. I buy her speaking the languages more than the tick :P

    Gina, Well, it is just my take on it. I’ve seen a lot of very positive reviews. They seemed to like Agnes a lot more than I did.

    Belle, You’re welcome! I have seen a lot of positive reviews, but it just wasn’t for me.

    Aylee, Oh good, that’s exactly what I try to do (give you an idea of what to expect with a book)! I could have overlooked the historical inaccuracies, too, but the physics was the killer for me. And to hinge the climax on it! Very frustrating.

    Danya, It was very frustrating to see her continually do the wrong thing. Oh quoting Jane Austen is totally fine in context, but she would do it randomly. I thought it was very strange. The historical inaccuracies were pretty big, but I think as long as you knew going in not to expect truth then it would be fine.

    Stephanie, So disappointing! It really could have been so good because there were many good ideas here. I can see why people who liked Agnes would like this book.

    T.B., You’re welcome! Maybe we can get a print of that cover :)

    Nic, It’s such a shame when a good cover graces a book I didn’t enjoy. :(

    Jessi, Agreed :(

    Alex, It really does suck. I had such high expectations, too :(

    A Canadian Girl, Whew! Glad I wasn't the only one who couldn't get into it. I think if you weren't feeling the beginning then you probably wouldn't have liked the rest of it either.

  13. I've read several bad reviews of this which has dampened my interest in the book. The funny thing is that this review makes me want to read the book even more. It sounds (for the most part) so bad that it would be a laugh.

  14. Oh my God, I love you. I love this review. I want to read this book just so we can have a sleepover and put the book's hands in water and make it pee the bed. Then we'll laugh at it together and braid each other's hair.

  15. Goodness that sounds painful. That cover bothers me too.

  16. I ended up liking this one but mostly because I basically knew nothing about the book before jumping into it. I didn't really think about historical inaccuracies but I can definitely see why you wouldn't like this one. Some parts of the book do seem absurd, but I didn't take it too seriously.

  17. From what you've said of historical inaccuracies in this book, I'm sure I would fail to finish it and just throw it across the room. Ancient Egypt is something I know a lot about so I would probably go nuts over such things. So I think I'll pass on this book.

  18. I snagged this one from GG and didn't have time to read it. Now I'm so glad. I wasn't compelled by the summary so much as by the cover, so the book wasn't like, grab me, grab me! I wanted to eventually read it and maybe I still will...but maybe not. Historical inaccuracies drive me nuts! So much promise, too :(

  19. Oh noooo! I was hoping this would be a good book (the cover! The synopsis!) It's too bad you didn't like it. >_<

    Awesome review.

  20. Alison, Hm, yes, I think if you go into it with lower expectations that it could be enjoyable! Can’t wait to see what you think of it :)

    Logan, LMAO!!! We’re totally putting its hand in water. Bwahaha!

    Alyssa, Aw, I like the cover. That’s about the only part I really liked :P

    Cialina, That’s probably a much better way to go into it. I think a big problem on my part was because I so over-hyped it in my head.

    Bookish Hobbit, No, I don't think you would appreciate the historical inaccuracies much at all.

    A Backwards Story, The cover is really pretty. The historical inaccuracies weren't even the worst part for me. :(

    Dazzling Mage, You might still like it! I think if you go into it with expectations lower than mine and with the understanding that there isn't a whole lot of history and it's written at a "younger" level then you might like it.

  21. i'm not young and i loved it you do realize this time period girls don't know how to do much stuff so the fact she can do anything is amazing and maybe the sciences are incorrect but the characters and there emotions and reactions are very much correct isn't that what makes a good story. just because its for younger people dose not mean we cannot enjoy it. sure the character acts differently then i would but she felt the same way the love the fear the hope the worry that is what makes this book an amazing read and a believable story and one i stayed up till 4:00 am finishing it


It's all about friendly conversation here at Small Review :) I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Be sure to check back again because I do make every effort to reply to your comments here.

Because I am absolutely terrible about following through with blog awards, I can't in good conscience accept any more. Thank you very much for thinking of me though!

Spam WILL be deleted. Attacks on myself or other comments WILL be deleted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...