Jennifer's Reviews > Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
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Mar 19, 12

bookshelves: horror, fantasy, ya
Read from March 17 to 18, 2012

Closer to 3 stars that two but...

I have mixed feelings about this book. As far as the good go, Smoke & Bone is an engrossing read that pulls the reader along wanting to know more, and in some ways, Taylor's contemporary fantasy universe is refreshingly original.

On the other hand, this is another case of a book/story/idea, that could be really good, but doesn't fulfill its potential for a variety of reasons, including eye-rolling treatment of star-crossed, soul-mates-across-time-and-world lovers that makes me want to scream that authors shouldn't feed unhealthy notions to teenage girls a la Twilight.

I think that Smoke & Bone could've also been a huge creative success if only the writing were better. To be fair, sometimes the writings shines, and Taylor succeeds at conjuring not only vivid, magical scenes, but also character development and emotional response. However, the book is also littered with inexpert romance novel drivel (due to the storyline, we're subjected to not one love-at-first site description, but two, and from both characters' perspective, so closer to four excruciating times, awkward sentence structure and stupid words. By this I mean, what the heck were editors thinking allowing Taylor to add -ness and -ful to the ends of words to make new words that just made it sound like this was written by a nerdy pre-teen/teenager who took up writing fantasy as a hobby? (I should know. I have my own notebooks of poorly-executed fantasy world ideas.) Furthermore, it also seems like Taylor channels her outcast preteen self in using large or somewhat obscure words that just make it seem like she wants to sound smart, but which merely interrupt the flow (fug, frickative, the list goes on).

Ugh. I also hope that the main character's "lostness" (there's the obnoxious use of -ness again, my least favorite being "unselfconsciousness"), which Taylor explicitly writes at least half a dozen times, in another case of telling instead of showing the reader, can be filled with something else than her too-beautiful-for-life soulmate angel, because that's just a crummy message to give people, especially if you as an author spent a significant amount of time actually making your character somewhat assertive and interesting.

In short, this book had interesting, intriguing ideas, vivid descriptions and some emotional clout, but the quality of the work was also brought down by inexpert writing that wasn't sufficient to temper an epic star-crossed lover tale. I do have hopes that the following volumes will be better now that the groundwork has been laid and Taylor will have had sometime to mature as a writer.

P.S. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must also admit that I am not normally a fan of contemporary or urban fantasy and that my expectations may have also been unnaturally high for this book since it was a National Book Award Finalist???
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Katie (new) - added it

Katie Bruce Oh man. Now I REALLY have to read this. One of my other goodreads friends whose judgement I also value gave this a rave, 5-star review. I must check it out to decide for myself!


Jennifer I think you'll like it. I did actually like it and was definitely entertained; it was just frustrating and I'm a little baffled by all the rave reviews that seem to overlook the clumsy prose. If you hadn't noticed, I'm also really hard on romance novels oriented towards teenage girls even though I definitely would've lapped up the stories if I were actually reading them as a 12-year-old ;p If it means anything, it is probably the best angel book I've read.

I think that the other reason that I don't particularly like urban fantasy is that most of the commonly-used "beings" (vampires, werewolves, fairies and angels) have pre-existing erotic connotations co-opted by authors to artificially appeal to the audience.


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