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Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor

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Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Library Check-Out
Rating: Sud-Kissed
About the Book:

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?
A dark, mystifying read that features a quirky, strange heroine of darker origins, Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone hypnotizes its captives with sumptuous prose and intriguing mystery. Magic, angels, and much more that tests the boundaries of your imagination, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the embodiment of talent, vision, and pure artistry. It is these aspects which make the story so attractive, but, for me, wasn't enough to hold me throughout the book. The first half of the novel evoked boundless awe, but the latter half dampened what I was starting to love about the story. The unfolding of events kept me riveted to the words on the pages--it's nearly impossible to be bored when Taylor is doing the storytelling--and the details, paranormal elements, and settings are dazzling, but I was dissatisfied with the romance, supporting characters, and the familiarly written ending.

There's a world of uniqueness and imagination in which I daresay most authors couldn't tap into, even if they tried. The workings of Laini's mind are splashed onto the pages of this story with such vibrancy and elegance it's hard to tear your eyes away. It's so easy to get engrossed in what's happening when Laini is painting such an exciting scene. The confusion induced by the mystery is more than welcome and adds this addictiveness to the book. I'd never read such beautifully different writing before now. Her writing style is that man/woman dressed in the most extraordinary hues and tasteful style, and you and everyone else on the street continue to stare until he/she is out of sight. So what's the problem?

I wanted to tattoo 'FASCINATING' across Karou's forehead, she is so cool. Her hair is 'peacock blue,' she's beautiful, and tough. And then there are all these minor details, like the fact that she can speak a million different languages and she works for a wishmonger who collects teeth and her family are made of an unlikely combination of... things we recognize in our world. She lives in Prague--FYI the most amazing place on this great big planet, it seems--and is an incredible artist. Who wouldn't want to be her? She is the kind of heroine I live for in paranormal romance stories. So when Akiva comes along and bungles that up--my connection with her and adoration of her--I couldn't help but resent their instaluv (though reasonable and explained) romance. I just couldn't get into it. He wasn't enough for me, I didn't fall for his personality (I couldn't find one though). For someone as awesome as Karou, the romantic lead should be equally awesome in some way.

And while I connected with Karou despite the absurdities scripted in her life, I couldn't do the same with the supporting characters. They are like beautiful pieces of art--you admire them, they are beautiful, but you're as close to understanding them as you are to unraveling the mystery of the banana. Impossible. They were too perfect sometimes, too. Too inhumanlike in nature (which some may have an excuse, but still).

The second half of the novel is consumed in what felt like an info-dump, even though it sorta isn't. It basically delves into Karou's past, which has been elusive to her all her life, and while Laini weaved the telling of it in the same tone she uses throughout, I just couldn't get into it. Unique? Definitely. But I started losing interest; I was more concerned with the Now instead. And with this crazy plot an unpredictable ending should follow, but I found that I guessed what the conclusion would be even before the set-up. It was disappointing! I expected to be left craving more, but that stopped being the case. I can wait for the next book.

Undermining qualities aside, I'm capable of sitting down with this book and enjoying it a second time around. However, though the story is just beginning, I can't name excitement as one of my feelings toward future books. Just a moderate interest and curiosity. My hopes are that Taylor fleshes out the romance and Co. and implements a more original ending so that I can fall just as madly in love as everyone else.

Those delightful moments during your bubble bath, with a book companion in one hand and a glass of chocolate milk in the other, are the best way to describe the luxurious feelings that Sud-Kissed books create. These books can sometimes be even more rereadable than Special Shelf books... (My Rating System In-Depth)
The only tattoos visible as she dug out her sketchbook and handed it over were the ones on her wrists like bracelets--a single word on each: true and story. (8)

The Wishmonger's voice was so deep it seemed almost the shadow of sound: a dark sonance that lurked in the lowest register of hearing. "I don't know many rules to live by," he'd said. "But here's one. It's simple. Don't put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles--drug or tattoo--and... no inessential penises, either."
"Inessential penises?" Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. "Is there any such thing as an essential one?"
"When an essential one comes along, you'll know," he'd replied. "Stop squandering yourself, child. Wait for love." (22)


Liz. R said...

Karou was definitely fascinating! I absolutely loved her! It's a shame you weren't blown away by this one, but glad you enjoyed it overall. Great review! :)

Me said...

Inessential penises was my favorite quote in the whole book :)

A. Knight said...

Liz- Yeah, I'm hoping that the next book draws me in deeper.

Me- *high fives* I cracked up so much when I read that line. (:

SQT said...

I connected to this book in a big way. It was probably my favorite book of the year. I'm sorry you didn't love it.

A. Knight said...

SQT- It had a lot of great things going for it, but, yeah, ultimately it disappointed me. Still a fun read overall!(:

Princess Ash said...

This author is creative. I haven't really ever thought about the
concepts she put in this book, but I believe she went a little overboard
with the romance. It was a bit too fast for my taste.

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