It is WWII and our narrator is being held by the Gestapo in France. “Being held,” makes it sound civilized, as if there might be some chance for her e...moreIt is WWII and our narrator is being held by the Gestapo in France. “Being held,” makes it sound civilized, as if there might be some chance for her eventual release. But there is none. Under torture, Verity has agreed to write up her confession – everything she knows – in the hope that she will convince the Gestapo captain that she is telling the truth. In the hope that she can put death off just a little longer, and that when her death finally arrives it will be fast and merciful. As she puts it, “I am a coward... And I’m going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember.”
But Verity cannot tell her story without talking about her friend – her best friend – Maddie, the pilot who brought her to France. The Gestapo have shown Verity pictures of the wreckage of that flight, Maddie’s last flight. She’s seen the black and white photos of what they found in the cockpit. And so when she begins to tell her tale she chooses to tell it in Maddie’s voice, from Maddie’s perspective.
It is the story of how Maddie became a pilot, how she met Verity, and how the two of them came to be in France for Verity to carry out her doomed mission. Verity will tell the truth, but the truth doesn't always look the way we expect it to.
This is the best book I’ve read all year, and easily one of the best books I’ve read in the last five years. It’s difficult to explain why, but I’ll try. The author did a lot of research to make sure that the story was plausible. The characters have unique and well-rounded voices. The setting is dark, yes, and the premise is heartbreaking... but Verity is so alive and so dauntless, and her love for her friend burned so brightly that I found myself laughing and hoping with her, even though logic told me there could be only one outcome to her situation. And that outcome, when it came? Not at all what I expected it to be.
I know a lot of people have described this as a tear-jerker, but for me it didn't quite read that way. For me it was much more triumphant victory than heartbreaking tragedy.(less)
Verse novel. Indian-Canadian girl accompanies her father back to India to disperse her mother's ashes; while they're there Indira Gandhi is assassinat...moreVerse novel. Indian-Canadian girl accompanies her father back to India to disperse her mother's ashes; while they're there Indira Gandhi is assassinated and they get caught up in the 1984 Sikh Massacre. (less)
Wow, I think it's been a long time since I've given something 5 stars. Magical Victorian circus? Character-driven, richly described historical fantasy...moreWow, I think it's been a long time since I've given something 5 stars. Magical Victorian circus? Character-driven, richly described historical fantasy? Setting as character? Oh, Night Circus, you're pushing all of my buttons.
For me, the dazzling circus scenes were well-balanced with the slow and subdued plotline. I liked taking my time to get to know the players and their game, and the slightly non-linear events were pleasantly disorienting, like wandering through a funhouse maze.
After so long reading contemporary YA fiction, this book's slow build-up, understated emotion and abstention from utter tragedy was like a good nerve tonic. Yay, I can still enjoy good fiction!(less)
Ohhhh, what to say about this. I LOVED Karou. I loved her friends, the world she lived in, her demonic family. I loved the glittering descriptions of...moreOhhhh, what to say about this. I LOVED Karou. I loved her friends, the world she lived in, her demonic family. I loved the glittering descriptions of Prague and Marrakesh. I loved the magic and the portal-hopping and the wishes made on skuppie beads. I particularly loved the names; Kishmish, Khazamir, Issa, Zusana. I was ok with the seraphs-as-dangerous-enemies thing, especially since we were clearly on the side of the chimera. I love me some demons :)
What I wasn't too happy about, what I was increasingly distressed by and what caused me to disengage somewhat from the book, was the exceptionally gooey romance. In fact I felt a little bit tricked because the book blurb didn't lead me to believe that Romance (with a capital R) was going to play such a huge role in the story. I know, I know, what was I expecting? It's teen paranormal fiction and Romance is virtually mandatory. I'm feeling some harsh Romance fatigue right now, and the Romance in Daughter of Smoke and Bone is of the soul-shattering variety. Worlds balance on the axis of this particular Romance. THIS Romance has the potential to bring an end to a millennia-old war. Which, in terms of emotional scale, is par for the course in teen fiction. I'm just feeling a little worn out by it.
So the takeaway for me is, good book, beautiful descriptions, fun characters, nice world-building, but romance as thick as corn syrup. Ends on a cliffhanger and I'd like to read the next one, if I can get over my Romance fatigue. (less)