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Review: The Eight, Katherine Neville

No way I’d ever be able to summarize this chunkster, so off to Amazon we go:

“When two young women in France of 1790 discover the Montglane Chess Service in Montglane Abbey, they recognize its mystic ability to provide anyone playing it with unlimited power and desperately scatter its pieces around the world. But in 1972, computer expert Catherine “Cat” Velis is hired to recover the chess pieces–and is caught up in a nefarious, globe-spanning conspiracy.”

Yeah, sounds good, right?  That’s what I hoped.  Apparently people do like this book.  I was not one of them.

Let me first say that this is a genre that I don’t like.  I didn’t like The Da Vinci Code, although I will be honest, I liked it better than this.  The book is centered around chess, a game I don’t even understand.  The reviews assured me that would be okay.  The book also seems full of math and science, my two least favorite subjects, although I certainly recognize their importance.  Now, throw in a convoluted plot that I couldn’t keep track of, 64 characters, none of whom I liked and most of whom seemed like coincidental famous people name-dropping, a journey that is supposed to seem threatening and dangerous but never made sense to me, some mediocre writing, and a couple of unbelievable love stories, and you’ve got this book.  

I knew I’d had enough when the author suggested that a blue velvet cloth survived for 1000 years.  Let me tell you why this bothers me.  We have no evidence for velvet even existing before the 14th century and quite simply, fabric hardly ever survives this long unless in special preserved circumstances.  Somehow, I’m doubting that this velvet cloth was buried in a water-logged, oxygen free environment for most of its existence, and there’s no way such old fabric could survive in the open air without serious preservation, let alone be passed around from country to country for two hundred years.  Nitpicky, maybe, but blatantly wrong details like that just throw me out of a book completely.

This book was just not for me.  I finished it because I have the sequel for review.  It clearly is meant for someone else, probably someone who likes thrillers, chess, and science and also does not particularly know much about history or archaeology.  If that’s you, you should try this book out.  It’s certainly not me.  I can’t recommend this book.  

If you liked The Eight, I want to know, so I can link to you.  I hate posting a negative review without counterbalancing it.

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