Monday, May 23, 2011

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Pub Date: May 24, 2011.

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. AgnesWilkins 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.

With a somewhat slow start, Wrapped launched into an intriguing and on-the-edge plot that kept me hopping from one page to the next, eager to see what happens.

The beginning was filled with high talk and poofy dresses. It takes a minute to get used to the language but once you settle in, you're ready for the action to start. That doesn't happen for another couple of chapters though. First we have to flesh Agnes out, show that she's not your typical society women concerned with debuts and marrying "right." Agnes wants adventure. She wants to travel. She wants to think about something other than fabric colors.

Enter the mummy, and her noticing a boy below her station, and that's when all of her troubles begin. Agnes adopts a secret that's more than just a novelty or a dream of a far away place. It shoves her right into the middle of something that she doesn't know if she's capable of handling or not. The easiest thing for Agnes to do would be to give up.

But she doesn't. She sticks through the problems right until the end. Even when things get dangerous, even when her well-being is at stake, Agnes stands hard and tall to get the job done. And that's what I loved about her. She didn't need to be saved. She thought for herself and did her own saving. In fact, she stepped in and saved other people of the male variety. Something mighty fantastic of a girl of the time.

I will admit, though, I had a hard time swallowing the end. Just based on what I know of the era, it doesn't seem to fit. But according to the author, things like this did happen. Of course we wouldn't know about it because, well, covers would be blown, wouldn't they? I had to suspend my disbelief a little bit for that part but it was worth it.

Wrapped is exceptionally well-written and captures the voice of the time perfectly (sometimes a little too perfectly at some points that it dragged). Agnes is all the YA heroine that we could ask for and then some. Even in her floofy dresses she blows a lot of these current YA chicks straight out of the water.

I really don't have much to say about Wrapped other than if you love Egypt and Victorian-era London, you'll want to dive right into this book. It's a history lesson and a fun adventure all rolled into one. You'll be biting your nails in suspense as the plot carries on and by the end, you'll be clapping for all that happened. I thought it was great.

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