first, fair enuf-- good on them for getting published.
but this is a terrible novel, even for 1st timers. this is such an overweening air of preciousness about the whole damn thing and the endless goings-on of the romantic angle were just tiresome. the "puzzle" was ridiculous and the whole thing smacks of a cynical cash-in on this publishing craze (Da Vinci sucked too but it made some sense).
i think these kids can write and hope this "success" doesn't ruin them.
Yeah... this book is pretty awful, and pretty much nothing in it makes any sense.
Take the ending. Paul gets the blueprint to the lock from Curry and after many years (for some reason he doesn't contact his friends) opens the crypt and sends some painting to Tom. So he is basically just a grave robber? Doesn't all that stuff belong in a museum, as Indy would say.
I like the book but towards the end, I found myself anxious that there were so few pages left and it couldn't possibly mean that there'd be closure. Also, I didn't get Tom's sudden onset of recidivism. He constantly focuses and chooses Katie and then after graduation, he drops her? And somehow, at 30, she's still waiting for him in NY? I understand melancholia over losing a friend but I didn't see the self-blame. Did I miss it?
Tom doesn't drop Katie exactly. She still has two years to go after Tom graduates, and Tom has been worrying from the start about being in either Chicago or Texas during Katie's junior and senior years. Even without all the hijinks, they'd have been separated. Tom explains as well as he can on page 435 and following. The book is about a giant puzzle, but Tom hasn't been able to solve the puzzle of himself, partly because he can't solve the puzzle of his father. He can't start fresh with Katie because he hasn't yet dealt with his own past: he can't be reborn; he can't have his own personal Renaissance. When he lost Paul in the fire he lost his second self--remember how Paul thinks of Tom's father as his own? (and Thomas means "twin" by the way)--and he lost his father too, for the second time--think how much Paul is like Tom's dad, get it? His father told him that if he understood the book, he'd understand love, but his friend/brother/father who did understand the book is gone, taking love with him. Fortunately, Paul/Joseph isn't dead and sends for Tom to come and take part in a tremendous rebirth: of the treasures Colonna hid, of the importance of his father's work, of Colonna's brotherhood, of faith in books, of hope itself. Once he deals with the historic past and his personal past, he'll be back for Katie. As for Katie, she hasn't been waiting that long. The end of the book is "the eve of our fifth reunion" (439), so she was at Princeton for 2 years and has been in NYC for 3 years. That's not stretching it too much for true love. Sorry this isn't more coherent, but I don't have time for multiple drafts. Hope it helps! Despite a few flaws, I love this book!
Wasn't Tom 30 by the end of the book? I remember him saying something about turning 30 in Texas which means he's been out of Princeton for about 8 years and other than letters, he's only seen Katie a couple of times. Long distance relationships don't survive on letters alone. And her last letter says she won't be sending him anymore until he comes around and yet he still looks for letters. I can't imagine someone hanging around more than a year for "true love" to wake up and smell the coffee. I would have thought Katie would have moved on by now. Yet he totally expects her to still be there waiting for him to find himself. I've read a lot of stories where the protagonist is an emotionally damaged man but the damage is better set up than "I never knew my father and what made him tick". Read The Book of Air & Shadows and compare Tom Sullivan to Jake Mishkin. Or read The Reader and compare Tom to Michael Berg. I just don't think the authors set up Tom as well as Paul for example.