Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & BoneDaughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 27, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 418
Source: NetGalley
Book Details
Rating: ★★½

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 devilโ€™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, sheโ€™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 sheโ€™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 »

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 » 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.

The Verdict


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  1. I agree about the slow beginning and how little information there is until you’ve reached the end ๐Ÿ™‚ and yes, the romance is definitely insta-love, although it did make sense in the end. For me, the writing-style was one of the things that made it enjoyable, so I’m sorry to hear it wasn’t enough for you!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted: First impression: Literally.
  2. I liked it for the most part when I first read it, but I barely remember what all happened so I need to re-read it to finish the series. I know the world that she travels into or something was cool, but I’ll have to read my previous review lol.
    If you do continue this series I’ll be waiting to see what you think of it!

    Kelsey recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: Brazen
    1. Thanks for the heads up! Guess I definitely won’t continue with the series. ๐Ÿ˜›

      I’m glad you loved it though!

  3. I’m somehow really shocked by this LOL Especially considering your review is mostly “like” than “dislike”. But I guess the slowness and the unappealing ending managed to eclipse all that?
    I can’t say Daughter of Smoke and Bone WOWed me like it did everyone else, either, but I really enjoyed it and the imagery. I thought the writing style beautiful and captivating, and maybe because of that I didn’t mind the “slow parts”. I did feel like there were two stories in there, though.
    Like you, I had some issues with the romance (it IS Insta Love. Even Madrigal’s story was pretty much insta-love. She sees him, is compelled to save his life and from that moment they think of each other a lot. When they meet again it takes three dances to have them run off together.) but like you I liked Akiva and her together.

    So, at the end, while I wasn’t swept off my feet, I really did like it!
    Great review though, Ashley, as always! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nitzan Schwarz recently posted: Review: Greed by Fisher Amelie
    1. I think it just so happens that the things I didn’t like could be summed up very quickly. ๐Ÿ˜› But they held greater weight in my overall feeling of the book, if that makes sense!

      Anyway, I’m glad you liked it more than I did!

  4. I tried reading this a few years ago and couldn’t remember much about it aside from the fact that I put it off around 40% in. But since a lot of my friends are telling me how much they loved this, I might try getting into it again. And I do remember disliking the pacing of what I’ve read. Maybe it was the writing style or the heroine, but I remember being bored throughout that first 40% that I read…

  5. It’s been a while since I’ve read this one (it was before I started blogging; I’m planning a reread next month ready for the finale!) but I remember really enjoying this one. The pacing was an issue in the first part, but for me Taylor’s descriptions of Karou and Prague and Brimstone’s world that had me sucked in.

    As for the second one…it is still slow, but it’s also darker and grittier than this one, so I don’t know if that would make a difference for you. There’s a lot more focus on the war, and I really enjoyed that.

    Nikki @ The Paper Sea recently posted: What NaNo Taught Me โ€” Are Readers Writers?
  6. I’ve heard so many gushing reviews about this book, but I keep putting off reading it because 1) I don’t love the cover, and 2) I’m not so sure I’ll love the story. But I got it for a Christmas present, so maybe one day I’ll feel daring and read it. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it more than you did!

    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted: Ignite Me Discussion
  7. Finally, someone who doesn’t love this book. I’m halfway through it, and have seriously considering DNFing because I just don’t care enough to pick it back up. I hate when that happens, especially when everyone else seems to love the book.

    Sarah recently posted: 3 Year Blogiversary Giveaway
  8. I’m happy to know I’m not the only one who didn’t fall in love with this book. Laini is undoubtedly a gorgeous writer, but I felt the flashbacks were overdone and the romance not believable enough. I ended up reading the second book last year, though, because I loved Laini’s writing. It’s actually really fantastic book! And focuses less on the romance, and more on the war. There’s also no flashbacks (from what I can remember). Hopefully you’ll decide to give book two a try?

    1. I’m glad you liked the second book a bit more! I’ve heard some mixed things about it.. some people think I’ll like it, but others think I might find it even slower than the first one! Tough call.

      1. Ooh, I bet you might find it a bit slower. I’m not sure on the pacing. It was fine for me but I liked the first one too though. So that’s going to be a tough one. I guess you’d just have to give it a try sometime if you feel like it.

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  10. Oh no! I absolutely love this series. But everyone is different and what one person loves another just find okay. That’s part of the magic of books. I do hope you will eventually give the second one a try. I’d love to see if it in any way changes your opinion or if you would like it more than the first. It’s much darker and more tragic. I found the writing style very beautiful. It reads like….I don’t know, really good poetry to me. Of course I also loved the characters and plot so that was a plus for me.

    Great review. It’s always nice to see someone who doesn’t just agree with the masses and go with it even if they didn’t really like it. It’s also nice to see a review where someone can point out all of the terrific points of a book yet also state why they didn’t like.

    Jamie Pinson recently posted: Trouble (The Rebel Series #3) – Elle Casey

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