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:: Whatever you do, don't...

...spend your time reading The Book of God and Physics. What a complete waste of about four hours of my life (I skimmed the last 125 pages, very VERY quickly). I was eagerly looking forward to a good find-and-decipher-the-ancient-document page-turner and suffered a disappointment of colossal proportions. The book has the extra zing of being about the Voynich Manuscript, a mysterious document which does in fact exist (it currently resides peacefully at Yale's Beineke Library after centuries of exotic travel with the Jesuits), and which has defied translation for five hundred years. You'd think that would make the book more interesting. Sadly, such is not the case. The reader is force-fed gobstopper-size chunks of exposition and AYKB, much of which is irrelevant to the plot; as if that weren't bad enough, the dialog is so stilted as to seem laughable, the characters as two-dimensional as paper dolls, and the logic trail so convoluted that Umberto Eco looks like "See Spot run" by comparison.1

(Parenthetically, I feel compelled to observe that the intelligent and exacting Jesuits deserve better than the loopy protag in this book. This, for example, or this.)

The book is translated from the Spanish, and the most charitable thing I can say is that they should have sprung for a much, MUCH better translator; alas, even that I'm not sure would have saved it. Clearly William Morrow decided to publish The Book of God and Physics because they thought it had all the necessary elements for a U.S. blockbuster: a) a mysterious manuscript b) intrepid amateur sleuths criss-crossing Europe to follow obscure clues and c) a conspiracy perpetrated by religious power-mongers (in this case, fundamentalist Christians in the US). Da Vinci Code, anyone?

Two thumbs down and a resounding "Pfffffft" for good measure. And I bet they try to make a movie out of it.

1. "Q: What do you get if you cross Umberto Eco with the Godfather? A: An offer you can't understand."

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