Maybe I'm missing something, but this book was one of the most haphazard and confusing reads I've had in a long time. Also not quite sure what the poiMaybe I'm missing something, but this book was one of the most haphazard and confusing reads I've had in a long time. Also not quite sure what the point religion was supposed to serve in the story: if it was supposed to be a commentary on Christianity, belief or lack of, free will, or divine retribution. Characters drawn in broad strokes make it hard to understand the motivation behind their choices.
If I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. This is now my favourite series of allIf I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. This is now my favourite series of all time. I need to reread it immediately. I probably won't have time. BUT I WILL MAKE TIME.
Tell Me More: If I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. When I first read Daughter of Smoke and Bone three years ago, I was prepared to be disappointed. The sheer scale of this story was overwhelming to realize, and nothing was predictable. Fast-forward to Days of Blood and Starlight a year later, and not only had Taylor expanded Karou's worlds, but she had also laid out some truly excruciating choices for her characters. Dreams of Gods and Monsters brings it all to a close, and that close is as horrifying as it is exquisite, as painful as it is filled with hope.
As things stand at the end of Blood and Starlight, Karou and Akiva both make the same choice, just articulated and executed differently. Karou chooses to hold onto a hope for her people, helping them in the only way she knows. Akiva chooses hope in the form of quiet revolution. Taylor doesn't pit them against each other for the reader to choose the better character, but she does let their actions speak for themselves, because neither are perfect choices. The fire that drove Madrigal and Akiva all those years ago is still there, and it continues to drive the story forward, even when the characters don't realize it. Their love isn't perfect, and it takes so much of who they are, but they are and have always been stronger together.
Like most final books in a trilogy, Gods and Monsters contains the most expansive world yet, and the story is spread throughout several settings and points-of-view. While most of the book is still told through Karou and Akiva's eyes, Taylor also introduces several new characters. Eliza is my favourite among them, her backstory intriguing and unique enough to rival the seraphim for my interest. Through her, the reader sees the chimaera-seraphim struggle the way humans would, with the added dimension of religion versus science. It all boils down to belief and the awe-inspiring, terrible things done in the name of belief, whether that belief is in power or religion or hope.
In this series, Taylor gives readers characters to believe in. They might be in shapes not easily imagined or seen, but they represent the potential for their respective worlds. Karou follows her heart, even in the face of terror, even when her life is threatened. Akiva doesn't accept defeat, but charges forward to take action, even when it seems hopeless. They're inspiring not because they are powerful, but because they recognize their limitations and press forward anyway. Parallels could be drawn between them and the Faerers, who did not recognize limitations and things better left unseen. Zuzana and Mik may not be fearsome creatures like the chimaera or seraphim, but they are resourceful and clever and honourable. Hazael and Liraz make some truly difficult choices, but their belief in each other and Akiva empowers them through those choices.
The Final Say: Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the kind of story readers dream about, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of tale. The emotion and wonder of Karou and Akiva's worlds are laid out in gorgeously rendered prose that will live in your dreams long after you close the covers. Laini Taylor has made me an admirer for life.
Tell Me More:With one novel, Ruta Sepetys became anYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: With one novel, Ruta Sepetys became an insta-buy author on my list. Between Shades of Gray was an astonishing story that still lives in my mind, and when I discovered that she had a new novel coming out this year, I didn't need to know the plot to know that I'd have to read it. Happily, all my expectations were justified and more, because Out of the Easy is just as powerful a story as Gray.
Josie is one of the strongest female characters I've read in ages. She's nowhere near being perfect, but there is a resilience to her spirit that captivated me from the first page. She might not have the ideal life, but she works hard and she has ambition enough to change it into whatever she wants it to be. But she's also young enough to want to believe in an illusion, and for a few short hours, Forrest Hearne allows her that illusion. His murder doesn't just rock the community, but the foundations of her life, and makes this more than a cliched story of a girl trying to get out of a small town.
Out of the Easy is a novel that takes every part of Josie's life, every person she interacts with, and every decision she makes, and allows all of them to reflect the kind of person she is. Josie is surrounded by some very strong and memorable characters, but they never overwhelm her or the story. Sepetys manages both with a deft and confident hand, giving Josie and her story room to grow and fall and make mistakes.
Of particular interest is the relationship between Josie and Willie, the brothel madam. Willie is more of a mother to Josie than Josie's biological mother ever was, and even before Willie begins to hint at the reason for that, the similarities are striking. Both of them are women who have learned to take what they find in life and shape it into something they can work with. Willie doesn't lie to Josie or tell her that life is fair, and that honesty shapes the person that Josie becomes through the course of the novel.
I don't see the mystery behind Forrest Hearne's death as the core of the story. Instead, it is the changes Josie undergoes as she discovers the myriad differences between her and her mother. Where Josie faces life head-on, her mother allows herself to be led by illusions. Where Josie is stubborn and focused, her mother is easily fooled and distracted by fleeting desires. A less talented writer would fumble with characters like these, and may even allow judgement to creep into her narration. Not so for Sepetys, who lets the reader come to their own conclusion about the kind of person that Louise Moraine is, and the kind of person Josie has the potential to be.
Lastly, I feared that the possible romantic set-ups between Josie and two local boys would prove to be a distraction from the story. Happily, I found myself enjoying the careful hints of Jesse's affection for her, and I am glad that her life choices weren't limited to picking between Jesse and Patrick. It was never a love triangle, and more importantly, it was never something that would define Josie.
The Final Say: Nothing about Josie Moraine's life comes easy, but Ruta Sepetys' writing makes her story more than just another historical novel. Out of the Easy will settle into your bones and live in your mind as much as New Orleans lives in Josie.