Jan 17, 2013

YA Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Published August 5th 2012 by Hodder Paperback (first published September 27th 2011)
Source: present
Amazon | Goodreads
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Summary: "Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came."
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

I finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone about an hour ago, and I still feel like weeping with joy. If you've seen some of my previous reviews of bestsellers, you know that in too many cases my response to a hyped-up book is a meek meh. Well, Laini Taylor has turned my world upside down-at least for as long as it took to read this book. But more importantly, I am taking some of its beauty with me. What more could I possibly ask for?

(Sequel, maybe?)

This book was captivating from the first page, from the first gorgeously written paragraph. The mad love grew the more I got to know Karou- the "Angel of Extinction" with blue hair and blue wings, who "moves like a poem and smiles like a sphinx...Karou with her wry smile and crazy imagination", Karou who collects languages and gives itches to bearers of "inessential penises" and Karou who wishes to fly. The wonderfully artistic, bold and vulnerable Karou not of this world.

And then came Akiva and broke my dear Karou.

I am really not a big fan of angels in YA and Akiva was no exception. His appearance marks a point where things change drastically, for Karou, and in the way the novel is constructed. From urban fantasy it leaps into high fantasy, and it's like reading a completely different book. This is not to say that the second half was not enjoyable-I enjoyed it once I got over the jump and parted with the magical city of Prague. This was probably the reason why the middle took a bit more effort on my side. Also, Madrigal doesn't hold a candle to Karou.

Nevertheless. As the novel draws to an end, and we find out why exactly daughter of smoke and bone, I loved how everything fell together.

Before I forget-Zuzana! The little rabid fairy made me laugh so much.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone puts a different spin on the eternal battle between good and evil, sheds a different light on angels and monsters. Laini Taylor has a wonderful imagination and I hope to read many many more books of hers. If some things appear twisted, different, weird-it's the beautiful kind of weird. The kind I enjoy most.

As if Daughter of Smoke and Bone was not enough to tug at my heart and made me all mushy with beauty, there was the afterword from Laini Taylor on why she wrote this book. Let me just say, I may or may not have shed a tear while reading it. This is what it means to make life bigger. And prettier.

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