Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy > Paranormal | Romance
Synopsis: 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 grows 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 beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery 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?
Would I recommend? To people who enjoy strange settings and strange characters and elaborate writing.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
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Any person who has been in the book blogging community for even a little while now knows about this book. A ton of my favorite bloggers and my favorite booktubers have included this series among their favorite books of all time, and it’s safe to say that I was feeling left out.
I had heard this series is weird, and that it takes some time getting used to it. The thing is: I like strange books- they’re the best kind. But it didn’t take me any time getting into this book at all. In fact, I was hooked from the beginning. The writing drew me in, the characters were entertaining and the backdrop was a ton of fun to read about.
However, I did have some very problems that I found very hard to overlook.
The world of this book is fantastic. It has been a long time since I have read something so strong when it comes to world-building. There’s a certain cloudiness over the history of the wars between the chimaera and the angels, which is speculated over throughout the book. It’s fascinating, and Taylor doesn’t give too much away.
The balance between the contemporary world and the fantasy world was well done. I enjoyed how it switched back and forth between something completely fantastical to more normal things like ex-boyfriends and friendships. I think Taylor’s work is ambitious; there are several stories going on in one book, and sometimes, it can seem gimicky, but Taylor pulls it off by creating such a nice balance.
I enjoyed the interactions between Karou and Akiva. I enjoyed the entire premise of the teeth and the wishes. I thought the plot twist was very original, very interesting and it completely changed the outlook of the entire series. I enjoyed the weirdness, and I’m definitely looking forward to the other books in the series.
But my main problem with this book lay in the romance. I thought it was a little too heavy-handed, a little too insta-lovey. Now, to people who have read the book, I realize why this instant love may be important to the plot, but I was still slightly bothered by it. I found myself rolling my eyes towards the beginning of the novel, and I usually don’t appreciate books that make me want to roll my eyes. 🙁
I think the characters are very strong in this book. I immediately liked Karou and she’s a believable character. I really appreciated that Taylor didn’t conform to the typical “oh-I’m-so-plain-and-ugly” protagonist we see so much of in YA; instead, Karou is anything but plain, and she knows it. She actually thinks she’s pretty, and I can’t express how much I appreciate this because it’s something we see so less that it was profoundly refreshing.
Akiva is a wonderful character. I think he’s so complex and nuanced that you’re often conflicted about your own feelings for him. We don’t know too much about him towards the beginning, but we’re still drawn to him, which is perhaps how Karou feels too. So Taylor does a wonderful job of making her readers feel empathy for her characters.
I appreciate that Taylor gave a fair amount of time to secondary characters as well. Even though the romance was a little heavy-handed, it was balanced out with secondary characters who I have grown to appreciate and love. I look forward to reading more about these characters in the future.
Laini Taylor has a very unique writing style. It has a whimsical, lyrical quality to it, and she incorporates intriguing metaphors and devices to draw the readers into her writing. It didn’t feel forced, and it felt like an extension of herself. I usually dislike embellishment in writing; I’m more for brevity, but this was a rare exception. If the plot doesn’t sound interesting to you, the writing may be enough to give it a try!