by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone series; book I
Since I’ve gotten into a habit of reading a book then waiting ages before thinking “hey, maybe I should probably review this, it might be a good idea” but then realize I don’t really remember anything about the book… here’s a review fresh off the press.
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 one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored 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?
My Expectations: extremely high, I mean, have you seen the buzz?!?
Delivery: I really wish I liked it more, but it felt like just another paranormal
Put-down-ability: very low at the beginning, very high about 2/3rds of the way through. 5/10
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was seriously one of the hottest titles around the blogosphere for a while, and this is coming from a girl who’s been primarily absent from the blogosphere for 2 months. I’ve read an abundance of absolutely rave reviews, and despite some trepidation with the paranormal genre, I went into this expecting to fully love it.
Honestly, I probably shouldn’t have had such extreme expectations, because it’s not the first time that it has worked against my favour. I was disappointed because I didn’t love it as much I expected to (partly my fault), and I’ll say it’s a good book with parts I disliked as opposed to a bad book with good moments.
Let’s start with the writing, which I’m sure everyone has already mentioned, is just lovely. It’s graceful and lyrical with some impressive (and maybe some overdone) metaphors that just made the book richer. I thought that the blend of realism, and then the progression towards a more fantastical premise was done really well.
One thing I noticed right away and disliked every time it appeared was that Taylor seemed to dedicate a paragraph to describing the looks of a character. I dunno, maybe I would have liked more subtle introduction to the characters’ physical aspects, but it felt like I was reading along and a concrete wall would come up and describe how omg-beautiful-with-perfect-body-measurements-and-eye-colour the character was, then the story would carry on. This seems like an odd part to point out in a review that should be more about the book but eh, I guess I’m out of practice.
Ooh, but can we comment on the premise? I have to say, at the beginning I thought it was one of the most creative and unique things with the chimaeras and the whole errands/teeth business that was just the perfect mix of mysterious and off-putting. However, I’ll admit as the story progressed and more paranormal twist was added, it was just about average, I thought it had so much potential at the beginning, which might have added to my disappointment. I want to say that looking back at it though, the mythology/premise is actually really interesting (I think I was more bothered by the pacing when I was reading it).
Next up: the characters! I liked Karou’s character the most because she had the most depth and I enjoyed reading about her inner turmoil and questions about who she is. However, I can’t say the same for the Akiva, he just fell into the perfect-and-more-perfect mold. Sure, he has a past (who doesn’t?) but I didn’t really connect with his character.
..who prefers romances to actually be developed instead of based on the insta-attraction-stalker-spark? Me. I still don't get why Karou liked Akiva so much...
Favourite character though? Brimstone, that guy is badass.
The pacing was something I also have issues with, and at risk of giving anything away, I’ll just say the I really liked the beginning half because it felt like the drama was just crescendo-ing, secrets were being revealed, lots of action, and I was looking forward to a killer climax. Then there were a lot of… non-action/backstory… and when I say a lot, I mean, a LOT that it felt the whole story’s flow just came to a screeching halt until the last 5 pages. And then cliffie! And I’ll be weird and say that was an awesome cliffie and just might make me continue this series. I want to say more about the ‘plot twist’ but I can’t because it’s too spoilery :p
But when it comes down to it, I just don’t think this is my type of book. I’m really particular about my tastes, and it feels like this book was just trying to do too much in terms of ‘epic romances’ and I just never really liked Epic Romances*. It’s just a personal preference, which is why I’m totally acknowledging that this book will be a favourite for many, just not for me.
Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: paranormal fans
Acknowledgements: forgot to read :/
7.5/10 – because it’s one of those books where I just couldn’t fall in love with. There were moments I liked and parts I appreciated, but as a whole, it just feels like another read that won’t stand out to me in a few months. The writing is great, but I thought just plot-wise, it wasn’t for me. However, don’t just take my word for it, I think you should definitely read it for yourself!
*which is why I seem to love the contemporary genre so much…
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