Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 16+ (language, violence, gore, mature content, trigger warnings for rape and torture. This book is also controversial in that it contains several instances of poaching. Be warned.)
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? – Amazon.com
Earlier this year I finished a little (I say sarcastically) book called Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I absolutely loved this book and I have a review of it here if you want to check that out. Since I’m in the interlude waiting for Taylor to publish the sequel to Strange the Dreamer, I’d thought I’d pick up one of her other works and “read” it as well (or if you’re one of those people, I listened to it on audiobook). The book? Daughter of Smoke and Bone. While I have some issues I want to definitely discuss with you, I want to present what I thought this book was good at. I thought the book was very done and unique. It’s a bit of a retelling in that it kind of retells the story of the ultimate battle of good versus evil all the way back from the Bible, but Taylor managed to make this story completely its own by weaving in other unique elements I’ve never read about before. There are monsters that have horns, hooves, different colored skin, and heads like other animals but bodies of another… and yet they might be good? And angels who fight with awesome swords for an endless battle until the world ends… but are they really bad? This is what I have grown to love Taylor the most about: she makes you think. The good isn’t always good and the evil isn’t always evil. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. She also manages to weave in sociopolitical issues in these fantastic ways that make it feel like you’re not being taught about war, racism, prejudice, or the arms race. She’s almost like the Dr. Seuss of the YA Fantasy genre. Aside from that, she manages to construct these amazingly written characters. They, even the smallest of characters, are amazingly well developed and complex and the same can be said for the plot as well.
However, I did have a lot of issues with this book. I thought the whole book was predictable and cliché. I figured out the whole plot by the middle of the book and from there the book felt slow and boring to me. It may not have been predictable to others (and I have a really good track record when it comes to figuring out the plot points of books) it was to me and it made the book uninteresting to me. I also could see where the controversy lies in this book and possibly this whole series. And I’m conflicted. Taylor almost made the controversial act seem ok or good in this book. Maybe this changes throughout the series, but for me I did not like how it was presented in this book. I liked that it was used in a book because I think more attention needs to be brought to it, but I don’t like the presentation of it in this book. Lastly, while I love Taylor’s writing and highly praise it I do think she gets lost in her words throughout the novel. There were sections of this book that I could zone out and when I zoned back in I could easily follow along with what was going on. My husband deems this as “fluff writing” and I couldn’t agree more with the description. What can be said in three or four paragraphs gets stretched into chapters. While some fluff writing isn’t a bad thing (because as a reader I’m wanting to know what the room looks like, what the atmosphere is, etc.) too much of it can be harmful to a book in my opinion.
Verdict: While this book wasn’t a perfect fit for me, I did still enjoy it and I will continue with the series if only for the sake of finishing the series to see if some of the issues I pointed out in this review, especially the controversial one, is solved by the end of the series. I do recommend if you are a fantasy lover or loved Taylor’s other book (especially if you liked her writing style in Strange) then definitely check this book out as long as you can handle the warnings I pointed out at the beginning of the review.