The Library at Mount Char is a most difficult book to explain. We’re introduced to various children who are all raised by Father, a sort of God-like fThe Library at Mount Char is a most difficult book to explain. We’re introduced to various children who are all raised by Father, a sort of God-like figure in their eyes, but not their actual father. He assigns each child a different subject, referred to as their catalog, to devote their life to studying. Their topics of study aren’t normal though, nothing as basic as English or Math. Instead they are topics such as the study of animals and being able to communicate with them (so much so that the individual became quite animalistic himself), another to the study of healing (however her abilities extend to being able to raise the dead), and another that is able to foretell the future (with the help of her ghost children whom she was required by Father to strangle in their cribs when they were 9 months of age). And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Oh, speaking of icebergs, there’s an actual iceberg in the story. He’s got legs. His name is Q-33 North. There’s also a sea tortoise named Diver Eye that is also a minister. And let’s not forget Nobununga who was Emperor of the Forests. He’s a tiger.
Yeah. Me either.
So when Father goes missing, everyone is at a loss as to what to do because he’s always been there to guide them in life. What follows is possibly the most unusual story I’ve ever read. But unusual, bizarre, peculiar, even outlandish — all words that still don’t even come close to describing just how weird this book really is. I’ve got to give the author kudos for an extremely inventive and creative story though even though I still can’t figure out whether I actually liked it or not.
I received this book free from First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
‘Once upon a time,an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse.’
My first read of theMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
‘Once upon a time,an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse.’
My first read of the first book ended on a low note. I reread and my opinion changed enormously. Unfortunately, I’m ending once again on a low note and I fear that no rereading will be able to change that. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a wonderfully inventive story of angels and demons, of romance, and friendship, and something magical. Days of Blood and Starlight was decidedly darker, and puts its total focus on the coming war between enemies that has been culminating for centuries upon centuries. Dreams of Gods & Monsters is a passive blend of the two and while the writing never fails to inspire praise, I felt the story left a bit to be desired.
‘Once upon a time, there was only darkness. And there were monsters vast as worlds who swam in it.’
For the most part, my sole issue was the inclusion of a brand new character/storyline that could have benefited from an introduction in the previous books so that her addition in this one wasn’t such a jarring change. There was a vast amount of time spent on her character build and while her presence ended up being an inevitably necessity, it still didn’t make the massive amounts of dialogue and general confusion as to her purpose any easier to handle at the time. It was all the more obvious when it wasn’t something I could breeze through on pages since I was cemented in place by the ridiculously long audiobook (18+ hours).
The other issue that detracted from my ultimate enjoyment was Karou and Akiva. *gasp* I know, but let me explain. We’ve been told from the very beginning of their all encompassing love for one another in all their lives. They’re in mad, passionate love with one another; we get it. But we don’t need to be reminded of this every time they manage to lay eyes on one another. It got repetitive after a point. Also, the constancy of issues they ran into giving them one reason or another to not fall into each others arms and fly off into the sunset together got tiresome. How many roadblocks can one pair stand before they scream in frustration? If I was almost there, they had to be screaming for sure.
‘Happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won–some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it–but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies.’
Despite my not so fabulous rating, I still remain completely dazzled at Laini Taylor’s beautiful way with words. She manages to imbue a wondrousness in the ordinary and completely transforms it. I might not be completely satisfied with this story/series, however, Taylor still makes it all worth it. I can’t wait to experience more of her writing excellence....more
‘Once upon a time, a girl lived in a sandcastle, making monsters to send through a hole in the sky.’
Having finally discovered who she truly is, Karo‘Once upon a time, a girl lived in a sandcastle, making monsters to send through a hole in the sky.’
Having finally discovered who she truly is, Karou finds herself on the side of the chimaera, in a pivotal role, in the impending battle against the seraphim. Including Akiva. Bitter and resentful for the memories that bombarded her, she’s still unable to stop her heart from missing him despite the damage he has done. But harden her heart she must, because war is coming and with so few chimaera remaining there is much work to be done. In the back of her mind is a tiny whisper, that contemplates how this all could be avoided without further bloodshed. And while she ponders this thought, Akiva does the same.
Days of Blood and Starlight took a completely different approach from its predecessor that I was not anticipating. Daughter left us with a tragic ending, Karou having remembered her past love of Akiva, subsequently emboldening her current love for him, except his admission of wrongdoing throws her heart into complete and utter turmoil. Feeling that she must do what she can to help her people she joins forces with the unlikeliest one, Thiago, in order to help him save what is left of their people. Thiago has a different goal in mind though and is hellbent on slaughter and vengeance, even at the risk of his own people. The pain that Karou suffers both internal and external is a hard pill to swallow, but is nonetheless a necessary evil. Akiva’s story was equally impressive and his unexpected decision was shocking and one I didn’t see coming.
Days of Blood and Starlight was a dark and grisly story that lacked the passionate romance I loved in Daughter, but only served to strengthen this story as a whole. I didn’t realize the lightness of the previous installment was almost overdone and that the darkness was a necessary building block that made this an exceptionally strong installment. And it must be mentioned, but the writing? It continues to make me swoon. All this carnage leaves only a sole book remaining and I am quite nervous to see how it all pans out. I can’t wait.
‘I am one of billions. I am stardust gathered fleetingly into form. I will be ungathered. The stardust will go on to be other things someday and I will be free.’...more
‘Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you‘Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.’
Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one much raved about series. I never quite jumped on that bandwagon having read this first book as soon as it was released and not finding it to my liking. I quickly slid into the shadows after I realized I was the illusive black sheep uncertain whether I intended on picking up the future installments. Well, we can all praise Bookish Bingo for pushing me to do a re-read and deciding to give this one a second chance because I really, really enjoyed this one.
This is going to be less of a review and more of an analysis. And a comparison between my first thoughts and current thoughts. Regarding my first review, there were several things that I don’t think I fully appreciated in my first read. First of those is the fantastic friendship between Karou and Zuzana. I didn’t even mention those two and I’m kind of appalled with myself. Her addition to the story added a lightness and a humor that brought Karou’s character to life. Her character was interesting already in her descriptions (the blue hair, the hamsa tattoos) but her interactions with her best friend brought out the personality that made her something more.
The other thing I clearly failed to appreciate was the romance (with Akiva). In my original read my mind immediately went to ‘insta-love’ failing to completely grasp the significance of their meeting, of who Karou is and that it was a far cry from anything related to insta-love. Initially sure, their romance might have seemed quick and reckless, especially when this is someone that is supposed to be her mortal enemy. But as soon as their connected past is revealed? And that ending? Tear my heart out and run it over.
Whether it was the audiobook that finally got me to love this one or my overdue appreciation for the subtleties that made this story so wonderful (or both) the narrator for this is still definitely deserving of praise. So rarely will I listen to an audio narration and immediately seek out all other audiobooks from that narrator because I can’t stop thinking “Damn, girl, you know how to tell a story.”
I was undecided whether I had an interest in continuing this series after my first read. This time, however, I have the second audio ready and waiting for me to finish wrapping up my thoughts. I’m definitely on the bandwagon now....more
‘All of them were in a state of metamorphosis. Tails became legs. Fins sank into flesh. Gills vanished, causing their owners to choke on their first‘All of them were in a state of metamorphosis. Tails became legs. Fins sank into flesh. Gills vanished, causing their owners to choke on their first breaths of air. There were elderly creatures, babies, teenagers, and families, all climbing onto the beach, eyeing us with wide-eyed wonder. At first they numbered in the hundreds, then thousands, until eventually I could no longer see the sand for all the bodies.’
Three years ago, a mysterious species of ocean-dwellers emerged from the depths of the sea to take their place on land. Since those three years, the creatures that call themselves the Alpha have set up camp on the beaches of Coney Island leaving the humans in the dark as to their intentions. In an attempt to integrate the Alphas into society and to hopefully suppress the ongoing intolerance they face, the government has negotiated that some of their children attend public schools. Lyric Walker has a secret which has caused her to keep a low profile in an attempt to avoid close scrutiny. The disclosure of this secret could mean her death yet when she’s assigned to personally work with the prince of the Alphas she becomes fearful that her secret won’t be secret for very long.
Undertow is strongly reminiscent of one of my favorite movies, District 9, where a race of aliens arrive on Earth in an attempt to find refuge. It’s nothing like you would expect since it focuses less on the invasion itself and more on the prejudices and hatred that this different species faces. The injustices that they suffer. Undertow takes a similar route with these creatures that are immediately forced to undergo an intolerance that no species should ever have to endure. It was also reminiscent of the racial desegregation during the American Civil Rights Movement when black students became allowed to attend “white schools”, just with another species of course. Regardless of who the “foreigner” is though it showcased just how rampant xenophobia can become in our narrow-minded society.
‘Its skin is swamp brown and highlighted in eggplant purple; its mouth is a huge gaping hole. Teeth lean in all directions like tombstones in an abandoned cemetery. Its empty eyes are calm and black, offering little evidence of life or intelligence, and a long, wormlike appendage dangles from the top of its head to its bottom lip, ending in a bright, glowing bulb. It grunts and clicks and barks at us.’
The most interesting aspect of this tale were the descriptions and detailing of the sea creatures which only added to their alluring mystery. There are various different clans among the Alphas which are basically different forms of the same species and they’re all interesting (and sometimes terrifying) in their own way. The Alphas were fierce and ferocious creatures and the mystery surrounding their appearance on land remains a mystery for the greater part of the novel. That mystery possessed an interesting twist that I thoroughly enjoyed and can’t wait to see how it pans out in the next installment.
Undertow is more than some science fiction invasion story. It’s a story about family and honor, of respect and deference. And about overcoming prejudices and not standing for intolerance. Undertow was a most appealing tale and a tenacious start to this trilogy.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more