Jul 10, 2014

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: September 27, 2011
Pages/Format: 418, Hardcover
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Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Book in One Word: IMAGINATIVE.

I was interested in reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone long before I finally did so. It had the eye-catching cover, fantastic fanart popping up on my Tumblr feed (we all want Karou's hair, yes?), and that quote:
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well."
So when I finally, finally, FINALLY picked the book up, I was pretty excited. I was hoping for something amazing and fantastic and so good that I just COULD NOT EVEN. And while I didn't get that, I still got a good book.

The absolute best part of Daughter of Smoke and Bone is probably the writing. (If I sticky noted books like a smart person, this would probably be filled with them.) Laini Taylor's prose is so beautiful and magnificent and my gosh, so, so GOOD. The writing weaved this story into a tale and ideas into an imagination that we can all see. Taylor did not just create words: she created a world, and people. (Seriously, what is it like inside Laini Taylor's head?!)

Karou has this family that isn't quite human (in fact, they're really not). Karou herself is a bit of an odd-ball, with blue hair growing from her head (AWESOME) and hamsas tattooed on her hands that have been there since forever. And her little family that lives hidden from the human world in Elsewhere--and so, therefore, Karou runs does their errands. But even though the world doesn't see them, we do, and their characterization is magnificent. Issa: "serpent from the waist down and human from the waist up." Twiga: "[g]iraffe-necked." Yasri: "parrot-beaked and human-eyed." And Brimstone, my favorite: "monster...off-gold fur...clawed feet...reptilian eyes...yellowed ram horns." And those are just the non-human characters and Karou.

This story is told from two points-of-view: Karou and Akiva. Karou is an art student in Prague who runs errands--like collecting teeth from all kinds of creatures--for a monster, and Akiva is not. I won't tell you much about Akiva for spoilery reasons. But I did like his character. Heck, I liked all the characters because of how they were made, even the characters that were supposed to be unlikable as a person (I'm looking at you, Kaz and Thiago.) Some of the characters were like something out of a creature shop (imagine if this was a movie, MY GOSH), while others had such great personalities. And the way they were written--well, you already know how I feel about that.

My problem with this book is not that I put it down for a while. (Not even sure why I did that; it took me over a month to read this.) My problem really comes from the last section of the book. Because huh? This section is going to get spoilery, because I don't know how not to be here. There's a connection between Karou and Akiva, and that's fine. But some things just went way too fast and unrealistically; where was the tension and the build-up? And the whole thing with Madrigal--again, fast. Slow it down, build the story up more. And here's where I get full on spoilery and actually say things, because WHAT? Please tell me Brimstone and Co. aren't really dead. PLEASE. They simply cannot be. They are too grand. And I don't even know what's up with Karou and Akiva (and, I guess, Madrigal).

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is successful in its ridiculously good writing, fantasmical writing, and imaginative story, though it had a few plot holes and things that slightly bothered me. I most definitely want to read Days of Blood and Starlight, but it's two months since I've finished the first book and I still haven't opened it. I mean, I want to, but I don't feel the need to. Part of the reason is that I don't have time for it right now, and the other part is that the end of its predecessor didn't leave me needing to read the sequel, and I'm not super thrilled with the synopsis. (Also, I'm afraid I'll need to dive right into Dreams of Gods and Monsters and I most certainly do not have time for that THICK book right now, but I bought it because PRETTY.) In the end, Daughter of Smoke and Bone has a lot going for it, and I can only hope that improves as the trilogy goes on. It's imaginative in a way like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but not. But I'll shocked if the words don't cover you like smoke and you don't feel them through to your bones. (That's me, trying--and failing--to incorporate the title.)

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? Not quite.
Would I reread it? Maybe.
Would I purchase it? Already own it (and it looks so pretty on the shelf)!
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of fantasmicalness, lovely, lovely writing, imagination in a book, and a great cast of characters.

1 comment:

  1. Brimstone was my favorite, too! I may have ugly cried when I got to *THAT PART* Still, I'm with you. I read the first one ages ago and haven't felt a pressing need to rush out and read the rest. There are other books on my TBR pile clamoring for attention! HOWEVER, Taylor's blog post on writing, "Not for Robots" is PHENOMENAL! I've recommended it to all my writer friends. GOOGLE IT! You will not be disappointed! That lady's mind is brilliant!


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