Saturday, October 8, 2011
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Little, Brown and Company, 2011
Source: Received an advance reading copy through Amazon's Vine program.
Spoilers in the later part of the review:
This book has been pretty heavily hyped with loads of raves; although I'm not as in love with the book as others, I did enjoy it a lot and feel comfortable recommending it to others with the caveat that it's probably for older YA-16 and up.
Anyway the first part is absolutely enchanting. We're introduced to main character Karou who lives in Prague (I don't think I've ever read a book set there) and is an art student there with her best friend Zuzana. The twist is that although she appears as a mostly normal if eccentric student with her her blue hair and numerous tattoos, she lives an otherworldly life with fantastical creatures known as chimera as her only family. However something is happening; invaders are arriving and everything that Karou thinks she knows may be false as she learns of the sustaining force behind the chimera and discovers love with an ancient enemy. The world created was very inventive and exciting-little bits are revealed to us in the beginning and I loved trying to piece them together and guess where Taylor was taking the story.
Now we get to the spoilery part. Unfortunately the later parts suffer first from a romance where I only liked one partner and detested the other (Akiva is presented as the enemy of Karou and all she stands for; I can't just switch my allegiance and start liking him instantly like she does; also he essentially killed Brimstone, my favorite character who I can only hope escaped death and will reappear in the second book-he was amazing). Of course she kind of has a reason for that instant connection building rapidly to love. She has the soul of his earlier love and they had previously hoped for a better future. She wanted peace and stood for hope. He is a killer, practically a machine until she shows him a better place and then after her death, he promptly forgets that promise on a quest for vengeance. I really do not like Akiva.
So I didn't like that plot element and I wasn't a huge fan of the narration method as the last part flashes back in time to share the love story of Karou's first body Madrigal and Akiva. I liked that love story more than Karou/Akiva but it felt weird. I guess that's because I don't think I've ever read another story framed like this and it was too different for me. I recognize my limitations as a reader.
Overall: The first section was amazing but the rest of the book did not live up to that promise in my opinion. I am eager to give the second book a try to spend more time with Karou and hopefully with one of my favorite characters.