- Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
- Author: Laini Taylor
- Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
- Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
- Format: Audiobook
- Source: NC Digital Library
- Reviewed by: Valerie
- Rating: 3 out of 5
Description (from Goodreads): 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?
Review: This book started out on the right track. The author created a really interesting character in Karou. I enjoyed the humor of Zuzana’s character. I was intrigued by the mystery of the teeth and the wishbones. And who the heck was this girl with ties to a darker underworld? I was so excited to have found a book that was truly young ADULT.
Then along came that unwanted character, the angst monster. It felt like around the time that Karou and Akiva decided to hang out on top of the world the book began to wallow. There was just so much longing and emoting and nothing really happening.
We interrupt this sequence of over-emoting to resolve the mystery of the wish bone. Ta-da! It’s basically just a wishbone. There were some loosely explained links to memories, but I was hoping for something more. Alas, I found the wishbone reveal to be a let-down.
Just when I felt like to book might to start getting back on track, we enter the flashback phase. There were flashbacks within flashbacks. Oh, and the emoting began anew and had gained many angst point in the meantime.
During the flashback masquerade scene, I could not help but detect a distinct whiff of Romeo and Juliet. I kept waiting for a new balcony scene, “Akiva. Akiva, wherefore art thou seraphim?”
Finally, there was the non-ending ending. There really wasn’t a solid conclusion to anything (was there an actual climax meant to be housed within the flashback?), but rather the introduction of a new major plot thread and three words that I hate to see in any book “to be continued.” We get it. You are writing a series. Please just try to somewhat wrap up your story, and the open plot lines suggest that another book will follow.
I really wanted to like this book. I didn’t dislike the book. In fact, had I read this when I was in sixth grade, I might have loved it. Maybe. However, I can’t really say I liked it either.
There were some really great aspects to this book. The world building was interesting. I found it interesting that she went as far as to outline the opposing mythologies to explain the creation of the seraphim versus chimera world. I cannot help but wonder if the ridiculous nature of both explanations is a commentary on creation mythology in general?
I really appreciated the way she wove artistic theming throughout the book. It lent itself well to some rather vivid mental imagery. In particular, two scenes really stood out to me; the reverse puppetry ballet of Zuzana and the magical moth shawl.
***The next paragraph contains a MAJOR SPOILER. This is your last change to TURN BACK NOW!***
On the downside, I think there were some gaps in plausibility to the story. First, Karou is written as a very precocious and inquisitive character. It makes it hard to imagine that she has not discovered more about herself or the nature of her foster family. Second, early in the book, when Akiva has already fallen for Karou, he agrees to accompany her to seek out her family which he knows centers on Brimstone. It seems like at this point he should be exhibiting at least a bit of the overwhelming guilt and anguish that he experiences at the end of the book. At least some regret.
While I won’t be continuing on with this series (unless the second book becomes a book club read), I can definitely see a market for it. I recommend this one for fans of Twilight, Fallen, Beautiful Creatures, and the like.