Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication date: September 27th, 2011
Published by: Little, Brown & Company
Source: E-book from Barne's and Noble
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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads synopsis: Around the world, black hand prints 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 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: Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a delight to read. Anyone who knows me is aware of how quickly I tend to finish a book. I devour them. However, I actually found myself taking frequent breaks while reading this book so that I would be able to immerse myself in Karou's world for just a bit longer.
What impressed me the most about this book was Laini Taylor's breathtaking prose. She is truly a master in her craft and I consistently had to stop and highlight a beautiful description or piece of dialogue. The imagery in this book is breathtaking and I would recommend it based on that alone, but fortunately the story is just as beautiful. Laini Taylor manages to twist and bend words into perfect sentences that describe things that every girl is unable to voice at least once in her life. For example,
"Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn't. She was lonely and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and... cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust."
Everyone has felt a moment of crushing, selfish loneliness and that sentiment is perfectly worded in this passage. It may be cliche and shallow to crave the presence of another human being just to fill an empty space in your life, but that doesn't stop anyone from craving it once in a while. Taylor knows this and instead of turning Karou into a sappy, pathetic girl who just wants a boyfriend, only allows her a few moments of weakness like this where she is able to admit that yes, she is lonely. Something doesn't feel right. This "missingness" that Karou describes ends up being an important plot point later in the story, but I really admire Laini Taylor for holding back on this point. She walked a very fine line between being cliched and sappy and being realistic and came out triumphant.
The "love interest" in this story, Akiva, was fabulous. His absolute non-douchebagness was like a breath of fresh air. Unlike a lot of young adult male characters, he is kind and sensitive to Karou's needs. He actually struggles with what he's done in the past in a believable, undramatic way. Not to mention that he completely shatters the whole angel stereotype. He's fierce, determined, and his wings are made of freaking fire. Come on. In my opinion, he's probably one of the best male leads out there in the young adult world right now. When he's hurting Karou and she says so, he quits his shit immediately. He doesn't continue to do it just for the sake of appearing manly or whatever crap other authors spout to justify their male leads acting like a total tool.
Final word: Essentially, the only thing that stopped me from giving Daughter of Smoke and Bone five stars instead of four were some issues I had with foreshadowing. I felt like it was too obvious at points and ended up giving things away instead of really making the reader think, but this is just a preference and definitely not a deal breaker for me.