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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor- 5 BIG Cupcakes


TITLE: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
SERIES: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
AUTHOR: Laini Taylor
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUB. DATE: Sept. 27, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover, 420 pages

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?
*this is a long review, but I just had SO much to say*
THREE  SIX WORDS: Spellbinding. Breathtaking. Innovative…Love. This. Book.

MY “I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK” REACTION: I want more. I need more. Please give me more.

MY REVIEW: You’d think that writing a review for a book you loved would be a simple task, a pleasurable task even, but I’ve been sitting here for awhile now trying to figure out just how to express my love…awe…appreciation…for this book, and to do so without simply gushing. And you know what? I have no idea how to do that! I’m gonna gush, because this is totally a gush-worthy book. A swoon-worthy book. A stop-strangers-in-the-bookstore-and-oh-so-politely-demand recommend-that-they-read-it-kind of book…yet, it seems too simple, too not enough, to just call Daughter of Smoke & Bone a book, because it feels like so much more. It feels like a living, breathing SomethingElse. A SomethingElse with an electric pulse and heartbeat. A SomethingElse that wooed me like a lover, held me like a parent, and whispered secrets in my ear like a best friend.

            SUMMARY
Karou, with her natural blue hair; wicked tattoos; artistic talent; mysterious disappearances; and secretive manner, is an enigma. By day, she is a 17 year old art student in Prague, but at night she works as an errand girl for her foster father, Brimstone. Her errands? To retrieve teeth from his many clients. What he does with them? Karou longs to know. Within Brimstone’s shop, Karou grew up surrounded by what many people would call monsters, but she simply calls them family. As loved and happy as Karou is, the mysteries surrounding who or what she truly is, plagues her. With the appearance of scorched black handprints on magical portal doors, like the door to Brimstone’s shop, also comes the appearance of Akiva- the beautiful and haunted stranger that Karou is inexplicably drawn to. Karou soon finds herself swept into a centuries old, brutal war, and swept away by a love stronger than anything she could every wish or hope for. But with this love comes the terrible price of finally knowing the truth about who she is.

            THE STORY
With Daughter of Smoke & Bone, author Laini Taylor has created one of the most original, imaginative, and captivating stories that I have ever read. Taylor writes with a smart, confident, charming talent. Within the pages of this book, one will find not only fantastical worlds within worlds, but stunning stories within stories. I was completely engrossed in and enchanted by this book. At first, I read feverishly, turning pages as quick as I could, but then I found myself slowing down and reading languidly. Not because I wasn’t immensely enjoying the story and anxious to find out what lay ahead, but because I desperately didn’t want it to end. I wanted to savor every magical, heart-aching, funny, romantic moment. And I wanted to capture and memorize every single emotion I felt each time one chapter ended and another began.

The story itself is perfectly paced and executed. No part of the book every drags slowly or is rushed. I really appreciated the fact that, as a reader, I was given time to really get to know this world, this story and the characters in it. I wasn’t bombarded with information and backstory right away, but I also wasn’t constantly distracted by the things I didn’t know yet. This is definitely one of those books that make the Real World fall away while you’re reading it, until, for a few hours, nothing exists but the streets of Prague, a devil’s workshop, Karou, and Akiva. Yet, at the same time this isn’t one of those books that jarringly sucks you in with an explosive beginning or leads you up an intense precipice halfway through, leaving you no choice but to turn back or fall completely into the book. I didn’t feel so much like I was forcefully pulled in or like I just fell into the story, as much as it felt like the story and I melted into one another. I suppose you could say that Taylor creates a real intimacy between the reader and the story.

The fantasy elements are a wondrous mix of whimsy and an edgy darkness, and at times the line between the two blurs and melds in the most breathtaking way. There’s beauty in even the most monstrous of Taylor’s creations and true ugliness can be found within the most beautiful of things. Taylor has taken elements of lore and myth, and has added her imaginative sparks and brilliance to create something-worlds, creatures, stories-that is so stunningly original and captivating.

The emotional aspects in this book are breathtaking in their own right as well. Every feeling of happiness, fear, grief, heartache, pain, confusion, anger, etc is palpable and real and I felt them all right along with each character. There were moments that left me breathless with laughter or tears, moments that pierced my heart, moments that made me feel like I was socked in the gut, and moments that left me speechless.

The actual storyline is fantastic. The war between the chimeras (the “monsters”) and the seraphs is electric and dramatic, while the present and back story of both Karou and Akiva is spellbinding. There are so many awesome twists, turns, and unexpected revelations, that I found it impossible for my attention to waver. And the ending? OMG, that is a helluva ending. An explosive ending. A frustrating ending. An ending that left me reeling and wanting more (so much more!).

One of things I love most about this book is simply Taylor’s way with words. This book is very lyrical and at times almost reads like poetry. There are passages, descriptions, and comparisons that I found myself re-reading several times because I just couldn’t get over how beautiful they were. I’m not sure if I want to simply drown in Taylor’s words or stitch them together and wear them like a choker around my neck and braid them in my hair.

            CHARACTERS
There are so many awesome characters in this book, but I won’t talk about them all.

Karou is very much the main character and I just adore her. She’s smart, witty, caring, feisty, and has a humble grace and quiet strength about her. I loved her and felt connected to her instantly. I think what I loved most about her character is that no matter what fantastical situation she was in or what fantastical/magical/otherworldy aspect she encompassed, she always felt real and never unreachable. Her journey from art student to orphan to burgeoning warrior to lovestruck girl to angry, fierce warrior was fantastical, but it was always grounded in realism. Karou is a protagonist that readers want to root for and can’t help feeling attached to.

Akiva is a very compelling character. He’s strong, brave, beautiful, yet conflicted and lonely. When we first meet him, he’s hard and a bit scary, but entirely intriguing. Even when he’s at his coldest and even before I knew all his backstory, I found it hard to not be sympathetic toward him.

The supporting cast of characters is superb! Karou’s “monster” family is full of likable, interesting, touching characters. Brimstone is one of the most compelling characters I’ve met in a long time. There’s such a fragile mix of compassion and duty to his character that I found quite beautiful. I’m not sure I ever wanted to reach through the pages of a book and hug a teeth dealing monster as much as I did Brimstone. Zuzana, Karou’s best friend, is impossible not to love. Her humor, spunk, and genuine love for Karou are infectious and sweet. Everybody needs a BFF like her.

I love that there really is no “bad guy” because, well, all the characters are considered the bad guy by someone else. There is light and darkness found within each of the characters and the line between good and evil is pretty much erased, and there is a deep insightfulness to this notion.

            ROMANCE
The romance between Karou and Akiva is both complicated and effortless, strong and fragile, beautiful and twisted, explosive and tender. This is a romance that, in the span of a single page, left me breathless then had my heart racing. The spark between these two characters is simply electric and fiery.

I really loved watching this love and relationship unfold, and at times, crumble. I felt every touch, kiss, lingering look, as if it were happening to me. This definitely isn’t your average YA insta-love, soulmates kind of love. It’s so much more.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Laini Taylor and Daughter of Smoke & Bone have blown me away and, obviously, left me gushing. As long as this review is, it still doesn’t do this book justice. To truly understand the captivating, breathtaking beauty and originality of this book you have to read it. And you really MUST read it! It is one of my absolute favorite reads of this year and maybe of all time.

MY RATING
5/5 BIG, FROSTING SMOTHERED CUPCAKES

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8 comments:

Sarahbotbonkers said...

I agree! This book is a fantabulous read. Laini Taylor is one amazing author and the book she made is just...no words can describe it. Amazing review! I'm a new follower. :)

SarahS. said...

I'm glad it's a good book, I just got this book and can't wait to read it. :}

Lecea said...

Great review! I'm glad you liked it! Karou's a tough heroine :)

Sharmaine Chan said...

Wow. That book sounds so awesome!! I can't wait to read it!

Sharmaine Chan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martina Koleva said...

Oh I've wanted this book for so long but I still haven't gotten the chance to read it. Great review by the way but I guess I should stop reading every single one I find. It really doesn't help with the waiting for the book.

Fara said...

So cool that you gave it 5/5. I totally agree on how awesome this book is. great review!

Donna said...

I feel in love with this book. It is nonething like have ever read. When some ask what it is about. I have no words to do the book justice. I want, no I need more.