6 out of 10. I wanted to like it more than I ended up liking it. But I didn't dislike it. It sort of felt like it could have been better than it actually was. I enjoy historical fiction - I get to learn a bit while being entertained, but I wanted to learn more about the Khmer civilization and Southeast Asia.
This is a kind of Indiana Jones action story for girls. It stars a confident, courageous young woman, Irene Blum, who pursues her goals single mindedly. But she’s not averse to learning as she takes her life’s most harrowing journey to the jungles of Cambodia.
She’s following a secret map given to her by her mentor and avid collector of Asian art, Henry Simms, who is dying of cancer. The map, given to Henry by Irene’s father, sets out the route to an undiscovered temple that houses 10 copper scrolls recording the history of the mysterious Khmer civilization.
Along the way Irene meets a strange host of characters, all with wildly different motives for accompanying her on this quest. The novel appears to be about how best to manipulate others by exploiting their dreams and expectations.
I would have liked more archaeology and less intrigue. Lots of drug use if that offends you don't bother. I would rate it PG-13
Great for book club discussions.
A story of an area so extremely remote that most of us have little knowledge of it, yet we can relate to it as a piece of a puzzle that is Southeast Asia. Well crafted story with extremely interesting characters. A very good read.
First off: a warning. This is more of a character study than an Indiana Jones-like adventure story. A lot of time was spent exploring the real motivations behind the actions of each treasure hunter. For me the real stars of the book were the exotic settings. The heat, the lights, the colours, and the smells of Shanghai, Saigon, and especially Cambodia were what kept me reading.
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