Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 27, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
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 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?
I’m so torn on Daughters of Smoke & Bone. I didn’t hate it, but I never loved it the way everyone else seems to.
What I Liked
I loved the setting of Prague. There was something so great about finally reading a book that doesn’t take place in America. I loved imagining the city, and the other places Karou traveled to.
Karou was an awesome character. I loved her humour, her badassness, and the hilarious way she tried to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend. He signed up to be a nude model in her art class, and to get revenge, Karou wished that he’d get really itchy in… certain places… so he did… Hahaha, epic.
There’s no doubt that Laini Taylor has created a brilliant world in this story. The politics, races, and wars were all really interesting and original. Daughter of Smoke & Bone is probably like no other paranormal book you’ve read, and for that, I really applaud Laini Taylor!
I don’t exactly fawn over writing style, and for that reason, I didn’t necessarily love this book because it had great writing. But, I feel like I need to give credit where it’s due. There’s no denying that Daughter of Smoke & Bone is beautifully written. Laini Taylor really did an excellent job. It’s just that writing style isn’t a super high priority for me (plot, story, and characters rank higher), so the writing style couldn’t really sway me to give this book a higher rating.
I’m honestly not sure whether to put the romance in this section or the “didn’t like” section. I feel like it had pros and cons. I did like Karou and Akiva together. I loved the “soul mates”/fate part of their relationship. Maybe it was cheesy, but it was really sweet. I just loved the idea of how they could always find each other, even when pulled apart.
But on the other hand, the relationship did feel like insta-love at first. Akiva is drawn to Karou for some reason he can’t explain. Karou is equally drawn to Akiva for the same reason. So there is no actual “sit down, talk, and fall in love” thing going on, it’s just pure “I love you for some reason, but I have no idea what that reason is”… and that’s practically the definition of insta-love. View Spoiler » [Of course this is kind of explained when we learn that Karou is actually Madrigal, Akiva’s old “girlfriend”. So then I guess the attraction makes sense. « Hide Spoiler]
What I Didn’t Like
The first two thirds of this book were slow. My interest kept going up and down. I’d get excited about Prague or Karou or a particular plot element, but after that died down, my interest would completely plummet. There are just massive periods of time where it feels like the plot is going nowhere because we’re told ZERO information. We don’t know who Karou is, Karou doesn’t know who she is, we don’t know what’s going on with these monsters/demons, and Karou doesn’t know either. The lack of information just gets really old.. especially by like page 300, when we still know almost nothing.
Then I felt like there were big periods of information dumping. We’d suddenly get an entire history lesson all in one go. This in particular happens towards the end when View Spoiler » [we find out that Karou is actually Madrigal. It feels like the book suddenly shifts to tell us aaaall about Madrigal and her history. It was almost like a completely different story (just because of the way it was presented). « Hide Spoiler] Ultimately I just felt like I was reading a history text book at times. And at other times, I felt like different stories were battling for my attention at the same time.
Little desire to continue the series
Again, I didn’t hate Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I just wasn’t wowed by it like seemingly everyone else was. The end left me with little desire to continue the rest of the series. Even when we got the “big reveal”, I wasn’t floored or left desperate for more. Mostly I was just glad that the book was finally ending.