Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review - Daughter of Smoke & Bone

I have to confess, I resisted picking up Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (link). Hard.

Everyone's been going on and on about how great it is, but I'm not really a huge fantasy reader. And I just haven't been able to jump on the whole angel bandwagon.

Good news: This isn't really an angel story.

I mean, OK some of the characters are seraphim (angels) and some are chimera (part-man, part-beast or mixed-beast creatures), but that's more the backdrop for what is essentially a reimagining of the Romeo & Juliet tale.

Taylor uses these creatures to do some seriously impressive world-building, and why these two sides are at war and the different histories they've invented to justify their ongoing battle are thorough and well-conceived.

It's set in Prague, which is fresh on it's own, but Taylor also takes the reader to Paris and Morocco, all on the bizarre errands main character Karou is forced to run for her adopted chimera "father" Brimstone.

He collects teeth. Which he exchanges for wishes. But he doesn't give Karou good wishes, only little skimpy ones. Why, you don't know until the end, but it's worth finding out.

The opening is super-strong. Karou's on her way to art class when she's accosted by her ex-boyfriend Kaz, and an amusing, somewhat sexy scene is played out between them.

Then Taylor quickly introduces the mystery of Karou, a human, once-American girl now living in Europe, who's forced to run these strange errands for scary Brimstone. (Again, we don't know why--neither does she.)

When Akila, the (literally hot) seraphim shows up, it gets even more juicy. He's as confused about who this human girl is and why she's running errands for his enemies as Karou. He gets a big surprise. And it's very, very good.

The whole story builds to the Karou's true identity and purpose, and it's so intense, when I finished, I kind of wanted to turn around and read the whole thing again.

It's lush and beautiful, and at the same time it's ugly and horrible and violent. But it works. It's the perfect cozy-up-by-the-fire-and-get-lost book.

There was a point at about 30 percent (Kindle readers) where it got draggy, and I felt my suspension of disbelief slipping. A few times Taylor went a bit over the top with her descriptive language; she turned a few phrases too far...

But hang in there, hold that disbelief suspended, because the ride to the end is just fantastic. From the characters who've lost everything, to the ones fueled by jealousy, to those who're so sick of war, they're willing to try anything for a shot at hope, I was totally engrossed.

I didn't care for the end, I confess. It's very abrupt (there's a sequel coming), but I wouldn't let that be a deterrent. I had no problem losing a day reading this book, and I highly recommend it for older teens and adults.

There are some references to sexual situations and body parts (Moms), but it's not really graphic--one's in art class; they're sketching nudes--and there's I think two mild swear words.

So grab a copy reader- and writer-friends, here's the link again. Have a weekend lost in fantasy-land. Til Monday~ <3


26 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I don't care much for fantasy stuff either, but if you enjoyed it, I guess I probably would too. I'll add it to my wish list :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I have the book and it's on my list to read soon. You've got me even more excited to read it.

Old Kitty said...

Love your very fair and honest review!! Take care
x

Dawn Ius said...

GREAT review and I feel very much the same. I was absolutely engaged in the first few chapters, caught between being in awe of Laini's talent and cursing it at the same time. But I also agree there was some "slow down" moments and some overwriting. That said, I will read it again. She is a fabulous writer and I'm looking forward to the second book :-)

Christine Danek said...

Haha. I got you to read it. :) Your review hit every point. Totally agree. Total book love for me.

Pk Hrezo said...

Sounds awesome! I'm adding it to my too long TBR list. lol

Carolyn Abiad said...

You had me at Prague, but I must admit, this is already on my wish list. (You're not surprised?) Have to read it soon!

Tracy Jo said...

Love "cozy-up-by-a-fire-and-get-lost-book" - with all the books I have been buying from my blogger friends...that is exactly what I will be doing all Winter & can't wait. I am not a fantasy person either but this community is opening my eyes to other genres. Love it! Added to my wish list. Happy weekend!

LTM said...

@PK--I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Maybe because I *don't* read this genre so much? Other than those few glitches (little overwritten at times; hate the ending), it's very well done. Book love! :o) <3

M Pax said...

Sounds like a good read. I'll put it on my list for when my TBR shrinks some ... lol. That's not ever going to happen.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I'm like you -- I avoid bandwagons. But you've made me go to Amazon to get it. Evil you!

Thanks for visiting my blog and chatting, Roland

Lynda R Young said...

I've held off reading this one too, but too many people are saying it's fantastic. It's on my TBR list now. Thanks for the great review.

Carol Riggs said...

Hmm! I just might read this now, thanks to your review. Hadn't decided before, though I'd heard people say it was great. :) I don't like abrupt endings though--why does EVERY book have to be part of a trilogy or a series nowadays???

Lydia Kang said...

Great review, and I will definitely consider this for my TBR pile!

Janet Johnson said...

Wow, you're good at this review stuff. Angels aren't my thing, but you've got me curious. And I appreciate the honesty about what you liked and didn't. Makes the rest more authentic. Or genuine. ;)

Michelle Merrill said...

I just added to my TBR list! Thanks so much. Sounds like something I can't wait to read. I did jump on the angel bandwagon...but I wasn't too impressed with most of them. And did you say chimera's? Awesome!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I loved this book. Appealed to me on a number of levels. Really great breakdown of the book, by the way, without spoilers! WEll done.

cherie said...

Great review! I LOVE Daughter of Smoke and Bone! I think I'll be rereading my copy every now and then just for the beautiful prose. ;)

And you're right--it's not your classic Angel and Devil story.

Matthew MacNish said...

I hear many good things.

Liz Fichera said...

I need to add to to my Goodreads. The exotic locales, love those.

LTM said...

@Cherie--Me, too. I really liked the lushness of it. Just a few times it was overdone, but for the most part it was very nice. :o) <3

@Liz--she does a great job w/the settings. I've never been to Prague, but JRM has, and he always talks about how gorgeous it is. Now I want to go! :o)

RaShelle Workman said...

Leigh - I really enjoyed reading this book as well. The end - oooohhhhh, man - so irritating.

Elle Strauss said...

I've heard so much about this book--it's now on my TBR pile. thanks for the review!

Julie Musil said...

Wow, the title alone grabs me. I'm not much of a fantasy reader...at all...but then again, I had never read Dystopian before Hunger Games, and I loved that book. So I'm open to trying new things!

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a fascinating read! :)

LisaAnn said...

I was literally just looking at this book in the bookstore today, so your review has just convinced me to buy it! Thanks for the recommendation!