Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Book of Lost Fragrances

What can I say about this book?


No, that doesn't work.


That neither.


Um, wow.


I got a lot of mixed feelings about this books. Let me be the first to say that this is not YA, it definitely leans toward Adult. If that's your thing, read it, by all means! But if controversial political issues, adult characters, and, um *clears throat* *shifts collar*, more iffy scenarios, this book is not for you.

The book is nothing like what the title, cover, and blurb portray. The book is oddly complex, with many different elements playing into it. Subjects such as reincarnation, China's censorship, *ahem* iffy subjects, and even some Chinese Mafia in there. And of course, the fragrances. They're kind of a big deal.

This book is not only about mysterious lost fragrances. That's only half the book. But you see how the two relate; ancient Egyptian fragrances, lost for millennia, and reincarnation.

This book was obviously well researched, the fact just as relevant as the fiction.

I guess I should probably explain what this book is about. I'll try to do better than the cursory blurbs you usually see for this book.

Jac L'Etoile comes from a long line of perfumers, and she has her extra-sensitive nose and scarred childhood to show for it. Her father was obsessed with finding the perfect fragrance, the one that would allow you to remember you're past lives (this is a gigantic part of the book). At the same time, her mother, a poet, was fighting her own inner demons. Since they were both struggling with their own lives, they grew apart, eventually leading to her mother's suicide. Jac is forever scarred by finding her mother's body under the perfume organ, surrounded by mystical scents and the fear that whoever killed her mother would come for her.

Since then, Jac had voices and visions and delusions in her head, almost driving her insane. Finally, she found a doctor who could help her overcome this through mythological therapy, which leads her to, quote, "a wildly successful career as a mythologist." She's a total realist, and throughout the whole book she reminds you. Her life is as normal as it could be, until her brother ties her back up into the perfuming industry.

Meanwhile, a young man in China, named Xie Ping, is struggling not to give into the attempts to brainwash him and try to break out of China. He is the thought-to-be-dead reincarnated Panchen Lama, who was kidnapped by Chinese authorities when he was 6. This was one China's attempt to stop Tibetan Buddhism and reincarnation.

The story picks up when Jac's brother, Robbie, disappears, quote "leaving a dead body in his wake." Jac goes crazy trying to find him, all the while trying to sort her feelings for Griffin, her ex-boyfriend, and accepting her "destiny."

Also, there's a whole lot of people trying to find the scent that Robbie almost found and that the entire L'Etoile family had thrown their lives away for: the scent of souls (as mentioned above).

So, yeah. That's the book in a nutshell.

I liked most of the characters in this book - that is, except for Jac. She's not relatable to me. And it's kind of annoying that in every single physical experience, she just focuses on what's going through her mind and the spiritual meaning of everything. And she has some sort of scarring flashback on every other page.

Verdict: Complex and not age-appropriate, but if I was older I would love it. Please don't get me wrong; this book was was amazing. Just not my type.

One quote I did like from the book:

"Anything worth living for is worth dying for."

This review is also on Goodreads.

1 comment:

  1. I never comment on a readers opinion - those are you to have - so thanks for reading my book but I do need to point out and clear up - that nowhere is this book suggested as YA read. It's not YA. Wasn't written to be YA. It doesn't say it on the cover - all it says there is - A novel of suspense. Thanks again for reading!