Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: Wrapped

Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Publisher: Atheneum
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Pages: 320
Read it in: 7 days

Summary: 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 chaperons 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.

LC's Take: 

Overall, Wrapped had a very good story. The main character is Agnes Wilkins, a young debutante about to enter into the marriage market of upper-class English society. The story opens at Agnes' debut party at the home of her wealthy admirer, Lord Showalter. At the party, a fashionable "unwrapping" is going on-- a mummy imported from Egypt is on display for the guests' amusement, to pick apart and find souvenirs. Through a series of events, Agnes becomes wrapped up in her own adventure-- centering around an ancient Egyptian curse and the Napoleonic Wars going on between France and England.

I definitely liked Agnes' character. Even though society and Agnes's parents expect her to marry the wealthy Lord Showalter and live a comfortable, boring life, she longs for excitement and adventure. Granted, this kind of character is a bit predictable-- we've all read of the typical upper-class girl who longs to be free and have adventures-- but she was still likable. I guess I would have liked her even more if we got to see more of her thoughts and emotions. Agnes was portrayed as being a highly intelligent, clever, strong, and spirited heroine-- she loved Jane Austen, could speak TEN different languages, and had a feisty edge to her.  I just would have liked to see more of her character shine through!

Caedmon, the young man who cleans at the museum and takes Agnes' fancy, was also very likable, but slightly forgettable as far as a character goes. Kind, brown-eyed, and passionate about the study of Egyptology, Caedmon is clearly Agnes' match. Together, they are both drawn into an international mystery, full of spies, danger and ancient myth. But once again, I wish that JB had fleshed out Caedmon's character a little more so that I could have connected with him better.

Wrapped also had a unique plot setting, which combined Regency Era English society with a fascination in ancient Egypt. The story even had an Indiana Jones kind of flare to it, with international intrigue, spies, and ancient artifacts that hold the key to world domination. (I LOVE Indiana Jones by the way-- except Temple of Doom-- that one stinks.) In this case, it's 1815 and Napoleon is trying to find the "standard" (a kind of staff) that once belonged to the ancient pharaoh Ptolemy, because of a myth that the owner of said staff could wield an army of the "undead" and become invincible.

All that said, I feel like I should have liked this book more than I did. However, there was something about it-- some reason that I can't pin down exactly-- that made it fall flat for me. It took me forever to get through, and I became very easily distracted with something else almost every time I opened it. Maybe it was because the world-building was somewhat lacking, making it difficult to picture the characters or backdrop of the story. Or maybe it was the dialogue which was a bit confusing and hard to follow at times. In any case, I wasn't able to get fully "wrapped up" in the adventure and intrigue-- or to fully connect with the characters-- which brought my rating down a couple stars. Overall, this was still an enjoyable book with an interesting premise, but it needed something a little more to be a truly amazing read.

LC's Rating:
Generally, I liked the characters and setting of this book, but the world-building of 18th century England was somewhat lacking. This, along with slightly choppy and confusing dialogue, made it difficult for me to follow even though the story was definitely unique!



  1. This one sounds interesting. I'm tempted to pick this one up for a change of pace. It's a shame to hear about the world-building, however. I love Regency era settings.

  2. This book also reminded me of Indiana Jones. I liked the story and the characters, will probably even remember them well for a long while to come... but you're right, it did need something more to be entirely memorable and unique. Great review. :)


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