Sunday, June 21, 2015

[Review] Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
[Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1]
YA, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Published: September 2011 ( Little, Brown Books for Young Readers )
Format: digital
Pages: 418
Rating: 4 of 5
 
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 grows 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?

The world building in this was fantastic! Like, I cannot stress enough how well done it was. There was lore shoved in there and things I didn't know I wanted, but I got them. The myths of how the angles and chimera came to be were interesting and I like how each race had their own view of it. The settings were a nice change from the typical American, as well.

The characters were fun to read. What's not to love about a girl with blue hair? Karou was interesting. Being her friend would be an adventure every single day. Her knowledge of languages and her drawing abilities is just the surface. She was always trying to protect, but her curiosity would often get the better of her. I love her relationship with her best friend, Zuzana. They had a nice thing going, which is another reason why what I'm going to mention later disappoints me.

Then there is Akiva, an angel that was compelled to follow the girl with the blue hair. Honestly, I hate using the word angel to describe his race of people. It is merely a placeholder of a word. It implies that he works for a god, but in reality the idea of "angels" as we know them are completely different in this book. It's really interesting and I prefer this to what my mind conjures up when thinking the word. His role was to seal off the doors to Brimstone's (Karou's mentor and friend) shop, which plays a very large bit in the ending of the book. Akiva was ridden with inner anguish that is explained and justified. I really liked this. In books that I've been reading lately, all the main male characters seem to want to be a hero. They always want what's best for the MC right away with no hesitation. But Akiva expresses doubts and reservations about telling Karou about things she should know to make it easier on himself.

The problem I had between this pairing is that it was instantaneous love. It really hampered me from fully enjoying the story because it felt like it was such a cheat. I understand the reasoning behind it, in the case of Karou and Akiva. (spoiler!!!) But in the past, the love between Akiva and Madrigal seemed to pop up out of nowhere and then they even had intimate relations. I understand infatuation, falling prey to it myself on the occasion, but I cannot excuse these spur of the moment love declarations. Getting over this, the relationship between them was alright. Very full of butterfly moments, which gets a bit tedious to read after a while.

The writing was lovely. The sentences were woven together in a way that most YA books don't bother to take a hand at. There were a lot (a lot is an exaggeration) of random words I didn't know, which would interrupt my reading pace a bit, but I suppose expanding my vocabulary is a good thing. I also really like the way this was written, with the flashbacks unfolding the story. I like when movies jump around like that and the same with books. It could be confusing to read if you put it down, though, so there's that.

The plot is hard for me to describe because at one point there is a certain point where the story is going, then it changes. At least that's how it seemed to me. I could be wrong.

I think I've mentioned everything without giving too much away. I would recommend this book if only because of the way Taylor writes. It is so nice to read. Seriously.

TL;DR

Good:
+ writing!!
+ interesting and quirky characters, including side characters
+ strong female relationship
+ lore and legends
+ world building

Bad:
- insta-love
- special snowflake syndrome

Final Rating:
4 of 5