Released: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Author's Website: Laini Taylor
Buy it: Amazon
Genre: YA, fantasy, paranormal
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
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 Rating: 2 Stars
Between the raving reviews on Goodreads and the Goodreads Choice Award nominations, I had high expectations for Daughter of Smoke and Bone. That said, I can’t imagine myself loving this story, expectations or not. There were a lot of things that just didn’t work for me.
I nearly gave up and put this in the DNF pile numerous times, but I somehow managed to keep trudging forward. The story, while well written, just didn’t connect with me on any level. There were moments that caught my interest, the first of which was two hundred pages in. At this point, the romance comes into play, and it endeared me. Momentarily. I thought there would be some development. Lord knows the first 200 pages of the story drug enough, why should the romance be immediate? Yet, it seemed to come out of nowhere. Like flipping a switch. Karou and Akiva didn’t really know one another. They were supposed to be enemies. Souls singing to each other? The yearning to touch one another? (I would probably have the yearning to touch Ryan Reynolds too, but that doesn’t make him the love of my life.) This doesn’t work for me.
The way Karou handled her ex-boyfriend made me think she was badass. Finally a female character with a backbone. Then comes the romance, and Karou dissolved into a puddle of hormones, like most of them do. So what was the point in all of this ex-boyfriend business? To make me think she was badass, only to strip her of that when the beautiful angel shows his face?
Sometime in the second half of the novel, the writing lost its appeal. It suddenly felt all over the place, and I was reading things I just didn’t care about. Whose story is this again? I thought it was Karou’s. Oh, wait, yes of course. Big spoiler--highlight if you would like to view it. I found Karou being Madrigal to be slightly predictable, but I held onto the hope that maybe my prediction was wrong. But it wasn’t, and that disappointed me to no end. Resurrected soul? Really? So that entire time, the first three fourths of the book, Karou was never really making her own decisions? Her recycled soul was calling the shots? She was never really Karou? Yeah, I realize they are the same person, but Karou doesn’t know this until she cracks that wishbone, at which point we get this huge dump from the past, with characters you only see a handful of times. I just didn’t feel a connection with any of these characters. I'm surprised I remember any of their names. Any connection I had started to form was severed when we found out the truth about Karou’s past. So many pages are devoted to filling us (and Karou) in on who she is, and this disrupted the flow of the story. If I hadn’t come so far into the book already, I would have given up on it at that point.
The two stars go to the writing and the basic concept. I think there were some great ideas in this story, but unfortunately they’re overshadowed by all of the things I didn’t like.
The story ends in a massive cliffhanger (honestly, what YA book doesn’t anymore?), and I’m sure it’s leaving some dying for the next installment. I, however, will most likely pass.
Click here to see Tori's glowing review of the novel.