Karou is a mystery, and it goes far beyond her electric blue hair that grows out of her scalp that way, the tattoos that adorned her body, the bizarre, marvelous drawings of demons she swears are real and her strange necklace with beads that disappear when she makes a wish. Even her closest friend, sassy and petite Zuzane or her arrogant jerk of an ex-boyfriend seem to know nothing about her. But the truth is, Karou has never actually lied to them; she was raised by demons, or Chimaera, and she meets them every time her adoptive father, Brimstone, the taciturn leader of that little group of demons, sends her on an errand to collect human teeth. Despite the dangers, the lack of normalcy in her life and the constant nagging in her head that she doesn't really know who she is, Karou is happy. That is, until strange black hand prints scorched into doorways begin to appear across the world and people start claiming the have seen angels. And one of those angels, gorgeous and fierce Akiva, has set his eyes on her.
Okay, I'll admit it: I'm an absolute Laini Taylor fan girl. I have devoured every book she has published since her first title, The Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, first came out. I love her gorgeous writing and I have spent countless hours despairing over the fact that most people seem to not know who this wonderful author is. So when Daughter of Smoke and Bone was announced, wrapped within a hype storm, I was ecstatic because 1) Yay, another Taylor novel! and 2) Yay, people will finally learn of this fantastic writer! So, having said that, I will try to be as objective as possible in this review. I won't promise I'll succeed, but at least I'll try.
I loved this book, like sleep-with-it-for-nights-after-I-was-done-with-it-and-daydream-about-it-and-consider-threatening-the-author-into-releasing-the-sequel-sooner loved it. As I've come to expect from Laini Taylor, this book was written beautifully, with a delicate, gorgeous prose laced with breathtaking imagery and magnificent, impeccable world building. This story is highly original and unlike anything else I've read in the YA genre. There's witty humor, violence, mystery and even a little bit of horror. The characters were engaging and interesting. Karou is one fierce and strong protagonist and I loved reading about her. Akiva is complicated and I felt his magnetism jump right out of the page. The Chimaera, especially, where fun and nicely detailed and the magic behind the story was simply wonderful.
But, sadly, there were some things that, while I didn't dislike or hate, I did feel that could've been improved in the book. First of all, the pace. This book is probably heavier than other YA novels out there that barely make it to 200 pages, and though I practically inhaled it in a record-breaking 12 hours, I have to admit that there were a few occasions when I wanted to put the book down because nothing was happening. Don't get me wrong, there are some really badass action scenes in there, but the plot moves somewhat slowly some times. Then, there was the romance. I loved the chemistry between Karou and Akiva but it felt...off. Especially when we discover the big plot twist towards the end of the book. Don't worry, I won't spoil anything, but I did feel some times that their relationship was somewhat shallow and superficial. Though I deeply enjoyed the way Taylor approached the romance aspect of the novel, I felt the relationship lacked a little bit of depth and I really hope this gets fixed in the second installment in the series. And finally, while I understand the need, I believe too much time is spent over-explaining the circumstances of the plot twist towards the end. I felt like this derailed the plot a little bit and took momentum from the climax and then we were forced back into it with a shocking cliffhanger at the end.
Despite all that, this book is without a doubt one of my favorite 2011 releases. Almost every line in this book can be taken out and quoted outside with a beautiful and meaningful impact and there is no other word than can describe this book better than simply outstanding. Gorgeous writing, fantastic world building, kickass leads and a passionate romance, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the YA book that should top your TBR list this year. I highly recommend it.(less)
It took me quite a while to finish this one, mostly because I simply couldn't bring myself to pick it up, fearing being bored out of my mind, and, ins...moreIt took me quite a while to finish this one, mostly because I simply couldn't bring myself to pick it up, fearing being bored out of my mind, and, instead, decided to ignore it for a couple of days after getting a taste of the first few stories. I have a very bad track record with anthologies, but I keep getting excited about them and buying them. Mostly because Holly Black is almost always in them, even if the great majority of her contributions to anthologies are either "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" or, like in this one, "The Poison Eaters", which I still love despite having encountered it previously in about 5 different anthologies and whose presence in this shape-shifter compilation of short stories puzzled me. Still, I had been interested in this one for a long time, so, when I finally bought it, I immediately began reading it hoping to fall in love with the promised stories of shape-shifter folklore from around the world. There were a few really good ones, but the great majority simply bored me to death. I even gave up on some halfway through them or skip them altogether. There was just no pull, no enthralling, mystifying qualities that one would expect from stories about shape-shifters, and I think that is largely due to the fact that many of the authors went for the werewolf theme. The promise of shape-shifter stories from folklore, or even stories from uncommon shifters was half-fulfilled and I felt slightly betrayed because of that.
Some of the stories were simply bizarre, meandering and redundant, non-sensical and mind-numbingly boring. Others were memorable, but that was the minority. So, in the end, if you are looking for a light, fun read, this one is not for you. It is interesting and some of the stories were fantastic, but you might want to take this one slowly and with a bit of patience. (less)
Dear Disney: Here's your next movie. It has all you like in it: pretty and innocent magic, strong family bonds, female leads that are independent enou...more
Dear Disney: Here's your next movie. It has all you like in it: pretty and innocent magic, strong family bonds, female leads that are independent enough for women not to feel insulted but that end up getting their butts saved my men anyway and just a hint of pure, uncomplicated, everlasting and ever-so-lovely first love. Enjoy.
Entwined is a very decent retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. After her mother's death, the eldest of the sisters and future queen, Azalea, brings it upon herself to take care of her 11 mischievous sisters and make them happy which she does through their favorite thing in the world: dancing. They live in a magic castle with their estranged father who insists on banning their dancing because of mourning. They find a magic room in which they can dance without inhibitions where they meet a mysterious man with a dark secret.
To me there are just two things wrong with this book. The first one is the repetitiveness of the story. Just shy of 500 pages and about 300 of them are the same circle of circumstances: 1) girls wake up, 2) girls evade their father, 3) girls go dancing and 4)girls go back to their room. This made the reading experience boring at times. The only thing that varies is the dance they do when they go in there and, while I am very well aware that it is a retelling of a dancing story and I appreciate the marvelous research the author made, is just too much dancing. The second thing that bothered me from this book was the complete lack of interest in actually hiding who the bad guy was. It is evident since the beginning who the antagonist is and the twist concerning that character was predictable.
Outside from that, Entwined is actually a well-constructed book. Though sometimes a bit stiff, the writing is nice and the dialogues and conversations are believable. I also appreciated the author's concern in attempting to make each character unique and memorable. While many of them didn't really stand out for me, like Azalea's love interest, others did because of their well-defined personalities, like Bramble, the second princess. But what's probably the best in this book is the relationship between the characters, their interactions and the development of their bonds, particularly among the royal family. The romance takes a back-seat on this one and proceeds slowly but cute enough. The climax is well done, but it is, sadly, about the only time that I found myself really, really wanting to finish the book to know what happened.
This is overall a good book, not amazing and probably not for everybody. I recommend it for people that like fairy tales, fantasy and innocent reads.