The book begins with Kat-- a teenage girl who is a life-long runner and vegan and has been on the run from her home in Texas after her parents' death-The book begins with Kat-- a teenage girl who is a life-long runner and vegan and has been on the run from her home in Texas after her parents' death-- 's arrival in the small Oregon town of Lithia, a 'quaint' little town and a birthplace she barely remembers. The action gets off to a slow start as Kat, homeless and alone, chances to find a temporary job in a runner's shop and a place to stay. She meets Roman, an enigmatic actor, at the local theatre where he portrays Hamlet, and Alex, a charismatic shop boy and self-proclaimed tree-hugger. As a complex love triangle forms around the three, Kat begins to wonder if Lithia is more than it seems. When Alex reveals the truth to Kat at last, she can scarcely believe it (though most readers will have realized what's going on from the initial chapters). The town of Lithia is home to vampires both peaceful and carnivorous, and Kat's new friends are among them. The only question is, which of her vampiric suitors has her best interests at heart... and which of them may or may not be responsible for the terrible attacks which occur in the local woods?
I have overall mixed feelings about Out of Breath. On one hand, it is essentially well-written-- Kat has a distinct narrative voice, even if she is not the most unique or likeable protagonist. (She's got a heck of a great name, though ;) ) Paranormal romance is not generally my cup of tea, so I try to be very objective when reviewing the genre. I saw many similarities to Twilight, in that the protagonist is torn between two guys-- one handsome, mysterious, and questionable, and the other a likeable local who becomes as much a friend to her as a boyfriend. Lithia was also a very similar setting to Forks. So, you know, small-town vamps. There is definitely an environmental element to Out of Breath, and Kat's being a vegan comes to be far more important than I anticipated. Roman was a character I had a hard time liking, despite the strength of Kat's attraction to him, though his friend Victor definitely had potential. (I tend to like the maniacs who live in castles best when it comes to vampires, as some of you probably know.) Alex, I did like-- he's a genuinely nice guy who obviously has a lot in common with Kat, so why she debated between him and Roman, who knows.
I liked the mystery aspect to the "bear attacks" in the woods and those little nerve-wrecking moments when Kat is running through the woods and thinks she hears something... Overall, this was a very quick read and a fairly enjoyable one. The pro-environmental themes are strong, but not so strong that they drown out the rest of the story. There's a stunning little revelation about Kat's past in the end which promises a sequel. Out of Breath isn't a book I felt passionate about personally, but it's definitely one I would recommend to paranormal fans.
Originally reviewed on my literary blog: A Myriad of Books...more
Daughter of Smoke and Bone has officially redeemed YA paranormal romance and fantasy for me, just when I was beginning to lose hope in the genres. TheDaughter of Smoke and Bone has officially redeemed YA paranormal romance and fantasy for me, just when I was beginning to lose hope in the genres. The story of Karou, a strange blue-haired girl living in the city of Prague who was raised by partly-human monsters called chimaera, and Akiva, the deadly angelic soldier with a strikingly perfect face and a poisoned past who finds himself bizarrely drawn to this not-quite-human girl he has never met, is utterly unique and utterly thrilling. No mere "angel romance story", this book is practically devoid of fantasy cliches-- Lani Taylor has created a fantastical world and fantastical creatures all her own from her own twisted brand of angel and demon and alchemical mythology.
The characters-- I really can't remember the last time I got so fond of nearly all the characters in a book. Karou is my kind of heroine: she collects magical wishes on a necklace and has a half-dozen or more tattoos-- the ones on her wrists read "True Story", which I thought was too funny. She goes to art school, dodges her stalker-ish ex-boyfriend, Kaz, and has her own little flat in Prague. Yet she is desperately curious to know that truth about the otherworldly activities of Brimstone, her chimera guardian and a sorcerer, who sends her on errands around the world to bring back teeth-- animal teeth, human teeth, teeth collected in unorthodox and probably illegal ways-- so that he can work his mysterious brand of magic. Karou's best friend Zusana, a fiery marionette-maker who is hardly bigger than a marionette doll herself, is two or three cuts above the token "quirky best-friend/confidante" YA character-- her snark was much appreciated.
The romance between Karou and Akiva was-- as those of you readers who know how I feel about romance in most books can probably guess-- not my favorite part of the novel. But, there is tragedy involved in their relationship and tragic love *sighs* is so much more romantic, in my opinion, than regular ol' love. I'm hoping that the next book in the series develops Karou and Akiva's relationship in the present day to a greater extent, as YA desperately needs some more well-developed romance.
Karou's origins are a deep mystery, more to her than her secretive chimaera guardians, who stubbornly guard the truth about how she came to be raised by them in Brimstone's shop. She and the angel Akiva, who runs across her on one of her teeth-smuggling errands and is instantly entranced by her, sense that Karou is far more than human. The way the truth of Karou's background unfolds is unpredictable and shocking, and we are left with a cliffhanger-- the book ends before Karou's reaction to discovering who she truly is is ever fully revealed. I'm actually glad I was late to this book's party, because I won't have to wait long for the sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, to be released in November. I definitely hope that fantasy and paranormal readers tired of the same old cliches will take a chance on this book; I'm really glad that I finally did. ...more