Portia A. (Mount Laurel, NJ)
An exercise for the mind
Take a Jesuit priest, a beautiful woman, a brilliant atheist, a young student, an untranslatable manuscript, astronomy, alchemy, theology and physics and put them all together in a novel.
Dr. Enrique Joven has done all that and has been more successful than would seem possible. Unfortunately, he fails to deliver a satisfactory conclusion to this amazing compilation. Possibly because the Voynich manuscript is still untranslated.
Nevertheless I enjoyed this book ... it taxed my brain at time, but google was a big help.
Cindy A. (Bryan, Texas)
Good History, Disappointing Novel
In Enrique Jovens The Book of God and Physics, a Jesuit priest seeks clues to the deciphering of a mysterious Renaissance document referred to as the Voynich Manuscript. The story is, of course, in a vein similar to The Da Vinci Code, and fans of that book will probably enjoy many aspects of this one. Yet, while the idea of the plot is intriguing, the execution leaves much to be desired. It suffers from common first-novel faults, such as poor character development, wooden and plodding dialogue, uneven pacing, and a general lack of subtlety in the writing. For me, the narration also fell flat. Then there is the egregious use of footnotes to explain the dialogue and actions of the characters, and Jovens annoying habit of reprinting multiple passages from research websites (as his protagonist, Hector, reads them) in order to provide the reader with necessary historic details. Some of these could be issues with the translation, or it may be that (hopefully) by the next book, Joven will have developed as a fiction author.
There is a lot of neat scientific history in the book; however, these passages are not always well integrated into the story. (And if you dont like a little edification with your novels, you will not appreciate this book.) Unfortunately, Jovens work feels like two distinct books that have been poorly mixed togethera non-fiction treatise on scientific history, and a fictional piece that wants to be an entertaining mystery/adventure. The historical portions of the book were the best rendered. If readers can get past the average writing, as well as Hectors frequent denigration of Creationism (which may be offensive to some) they may be pulled along by the story. But when the planned sequel to this book comes out, I will probably pass.
Nancy O. (Hobe Sound, FL)
An intelligent read
While this book may not be a heart-pounding, mile-a-minute mystery/thriller, it still has a lot to offer. Do not expect a Da Vinci Code here, although I'm sure the comparisons will be made. This book is much better, and offers a bit more depth. Couched within the fictional story of two separate groups of people in a race to find the key to unlocking the Voynich Manuscript, there is a lot to offer those readers who enjoy history, or reading about esoteric knowledge (especially alchemy), and those who are interested in the topic of religion vs. science.
I really enjoyed this book; my major was history in college and so this was right up my alley. I also enjoy a unique mystery, and this one fit the bill completely. It requires a bit of patience because of the author's historical exposition - but it is well worth the time you put into it.