The Story: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? - Goodreads
My Thoughts:Daughter of Smoke and Bone (DSB) is a head scratcher of a book to review. I read it a month ago and have been sitting on writing this up for a while. I think my hesitation comes down to the 'I wanted to love this so much but I only liked it so how am I going to justify that in a review so I don't look like a moron' factor. Let's start off with some indisputable truths:
- Laini Taylor sure knows how to write. The prose in DSB is absolutely beautiful. It's just one of those books that's a pleasure to read because it feels like every single word is crafted perfectly and nothing is there without a reason. The descriptions almost make the scenes jump out of the book and I almost caught the travel bug from some of the location descriptions.
-DSB is undoubtedly unique in it's premise and also storytelling. I really enjoyed the idea of there being doors that could be opened to different locations all around the world (very much like in Howl's Moving Castle).
There are many things to love about DSB. The dialogue is witty and realistic, the characters are enjoyable and the ideas are brilliant. Karou lives an amazing double life. On one hand she is a blue haired, boho art student living in Prague. On the other, she is a tooth gathering errand girl for Brimstone, the Chimera who brought her up. Karou is beautiful, smart and talented and yet she feels as if there is something missing in her life. I loved the underlying listlessness in which the first part of the story is told and felt as if it was all building up to some cataclysmic juncture.
And yet there were a few things which almost spoiled the book for me. After much thought, I've finally deduced the core of my problem: Akiva and more specifically, the turn of the plot once he was introduced.There was so much potential for DSB to be something completely incredible and it disappointed me that Taylor built it all up only to have the book turn into a typical star crossed, insta-love cliche. Everyone we're supposed to like is just too perfect and the ones we're not supposed to like have no redeeming qualities. I know the idea of having someone powerful and gorgeous fall irrevocably in love with you is intoxicating, but when said person has no loyalty to the people who care about them, it leaves a very bitter aftertaste in my mouth. For this reason, Akiva felt like he had very little depth to him and since he was such a pivotal character, I can't help but feel as if he was only there to be good looking and not much more.
It's hard to express some of my other concerns without spoilers so let's just say that the motivations and aspirations of certain Chimera didn't ring true to me due to their intense hatred of the seraphim. Also, I've never been a hater of back stories because I love reading about the events that got the characters to the point of the book, but the substantial amount of back story in DSB felt like way too much even for me.
For the most part, I enjoyed DSB and I only hope that the next book in the series will flesh out the characters more and will give me something to relate to.