K.'s Reviews > Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
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Jun 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-sci-fi-dys, ok-fine-its-ya, surprise-bitch-i-m-good, this-shelf-is-divine, 21st-cent, goosebumps, identity-and-psychology
Read in January, 2012

I developed some misgivings as I read negative review after negative review for Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Readers didn't seem to have had their expectations satisfied; their hunger for the promise of whimsy and gloom set up by the author's previous tales of goblins, hatchlings and first kisses seemed left still craving. But I picked it up, shining with hope. And now I'm wondering what the heck those people were talking about.

This was all I needed from Taylor's anticipated novel. Granted, it wasn't perfect. I felt sometimes a slight heaviness to her arcane, wistfully wandering language; her intricate, obscurely romantic breakdown of feelings and thoughts, vague like mist but still discernible. Oh, all those italics. I felt most of them -- in my head thinking again and again, yes, I know how that feels! But when a storyteller is trying to explain how exactly (view spoiler), perhaps a more direct approach might suffice. And yet, I complain not.

So much.

I loved Karou. I loved her. If only for the fact that I saw myself in her. But apart from that, she was strong, funny, determined. An endearing teenager (which, as we all YA readers know, do not come often enough). There were so many tiny moments, thought flakes, I call them, that pass through our minds and are so prominent when they happen in real life, but are never written in -- perhaps, because they are so slight. Like (view spoiler) These peek-a-boos into Karou's head were hilarious and oh, so true. I mean, come on.

The world itself was interesting. Not the best grim fairytale world I've read, but interesting. The humanity of the chimaera, the cutting indifference of the seraphim: we've seen it before, the switching of moral qualities between heroes and villains, making monsters sympathetic and angels apathetic. And it worked here as well. I enjoyed reading about Brimstone, and Issa and Yasri and Twiga. And if I were in the story with Karou, I'd call them family, too. Zuzana, small and fiery. I love it when petites are represented as cool and unique (as I myself am quite of pixie-size). Akiva, come hither. I was quite baffled by his sudden desertion of their mission, just to follow a blue-haired girl and talk, of all things. But you read on, and discover there is history, more to him than his blazing eyes and impenetrable countenance. And you think, yeah, okay, nod and move on.

One thing I did have trouble with was Karou's balance between her normal life and her bizarre one. It's a little too impressive; that she can deal with the death, wishes and splinched half-animals through one door, and end-of-term projects through another. But perhaps, not. It's not like I know what having a double life, let alone a magical one, is like. And another thing, people see them. I'm always incredulous when characters fly or have an all-out magical brawl and gather no witnesses. Not here. People see them all right. And now I'm wondering how Taylor will handle that. She's set herself up for a big responsibility. Unleashing magic for all the world to see cannot be brushed off with a single paragraph.

This was an awesome read. Fast, entertaining and not entirely void of feeling. I was surprised at how far I felt from starting the book to where it ended. I don't know why but while there was no great battle, or even really, any great confrontation between good and evil, I still felt like Taylor delivered a full journey. It's a cliffhanger, surprise, surprise. But I'm not angry. I just want more.

There were so many sparks of recognition in the way Taylor writes that resonates with me. And so, excerpts...

(view spoiler)

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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Wendy Darling Lovely review, K. You liked this much more than I did, but I'm glad your "shining hopes" were fulfilled!

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist I agree, Thomas. It's a little thing, but I liked how her fantasy cities (Loramendi, Astrae) sounded like they could really exist. The names weren't too "fantasy-ish".
This was a lovely review, K.

message 3: by K. (last edited Jan 01, 2012 02:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K. Thanks, guys. I particularly loved the names in this book, too. Some people I think had problems keeping track but I found them to be so individual that that was precisely why I was able to remember them all. There's so many more things I want to say about this book, but I don't want to put anyone through that :)

Princess Kayla I am loving this as well. I liked your review. I am just about to finish the book but I can safely say that I will be reading the sequel.

message 5: by K. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K. Thanks, Kayla! I'm glad you're loving it and I can't wait for the sequel myself :D

Julianna Helms That was a wonderful review, K! You liked this quite a bit better than I did--and I am glad. :)

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