Asp of Ascension clearly has roots in Nancy Drew – but updated for the modern middle schooler to include hunky love interests (in multiples) who fall for the way she smells, her eyes, her hair, etc. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, necessarily, but the harem does get a bit old with all the fawning all over her constantly. Odd pacing made the book feel like a slog – overly long when it wasn’t and not really following a cohesive and thoughtful path. If anything, I felt like I was reading a 300 page synopsis – characters go to point A to overhear something, then point B to get a clue to a mystery. Point C is for studly jock to swoon over Nefertari, point D brings in the handsome Egyptian prince, point E introduces long lost childhood sweetheart from Egypt, etc. etc. It bounced around everywhere, never really settling down on any one scene.
Story: Nefertari lost her mother in an archeological excavation that also left her with a permanent limp. Now returned home and with the hot Egyptian sun behind her, Nefertari just wants to fit in with normal high schoolers. But the opening of a mysterious sarcophagus at the local museum that could very well be Cleopatra’s leads to her father collapsing and fear of an ancient curse coming to life. With new friends at her side, Nefertari’s scooby squad will help her solve a decades old mystery of a missing asp bracelet – and perhaps also help save Nefertari’s father from the mysterious illness that has him in a coma.
I’ll have to be honest – as much as I love ancient Egyptian history, this fell very flat for me. It’s all over the place, the Cleopatra references felt really shallow, and the whole story just didn’t feel like it could be anything more than made up in an author’s mind. Which doesn’t mean it was terrible by any means – just that I couldn’t get into it at all. It’s not a long book but felt like I had already read 800 pages by the 50% mark. Too much bouncing around and boys falling all over themselves to help Nefertari (read: a lot of instaluv). I wish more time had been devoted to the mystery; and that the mystery itself had a much tighter focus instead of wandering around all over the place constantly.
So, although I did not dislike the book, I have to admit that it didn’t catch my interest, either. Nothing felt realistic and perhaps I want more than a Scooby Doo level of mystery. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.