Meredith Holley's Reviews > Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
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Aug 14, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: girls-rule, young-adult, utopia-dystopia, pacific-northwest-glory, motherless-daughters, classic-young-adult, slaves, remember-that-conceptual-spoiler, reviewed, chosen-girls, monsters, want-a-hardcover-of-my-very-own
Recommended to Meredith by: thomas tomato
Recommended for: fantasiers and romancers

A wise woman, while brushing her hair demurely in front of a mirror, once mocked another wise woman saying, “Remember that time I wrote a book with a conceptual spoiler?” Well, Laini Taylor, I now picture you in that room with the other wise authors chatting each other up about your conceptual spoilers. Because, holy shit. How do you even talk about this book?

I’ve been marinating in it for a couple of days, while getting caught in apocalyptic electrical storms, losing luggage, stumbling around airports and homes and streets trying to get ready for school to start. In the midst of this busyness, I’ve been letting the story sink into my brain, but really I keep coming back to the fact that all of this story, the whole crux of the character development and plot of the entire thing, is in the last, maybe, three pages of the book. That may sound bad to you, but I’m telling you, it’s completely genius. That’s just my opinion, but it’s true.

The first page of the book says, “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” And that lovely beginning, a thesis really, which tells you the entire story in two short sentences, echoed through my head the entire time I was reading. Well done. Just masterful. That is the way you should give away your story.

And I’m not saying that the 400-whatever pages that precede the pivotal last three aren’t enjoyable – they are absolute fun and action packed for the most part. They were strangely ordinary, though. When you read the book, you’ll laugh that I said that because they are very un-ordinary looking in most ways. But, there is a lot of furniture and clothing and staring-into-smoldering-eyes and yearning for completeness, and other things u see in ur romance novels. After Lips Touch, which is three sharp kicks to the gut, the meandering descriptions and sudden brainless passion were weird. I still think there could have been less “their hearts were so one that they didn’t need to communicate with words” business. Like, you know, “she knew by his sideways glance that he had eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich earlier, gotten heartburn, decided to drink a glass of water, and then felt better, after which he watched TV for a little while and then took a walk.” I mean, at some point, the silent communication of soul mates is just not entertaining to read. Even after the last three pages, I think you could have cut some of that, but I could actually be dead wrong. Maybe you need all that to get to the end. Anyway, it was so worth it to me when I was done.

Also, the clothing and furniture were good. Like, usually, everyone’s walking around in damask and chemises, or, like, jean skirts and velour jogging suits, or whatever, and it’s itchy and boring. And all their furniture is so uneventful. Here, I kind of wanted to know what Karou’s furniture was like and what she was wearing that day. Plus, blue hair is almost always a good idea. I had blue hair for a while, and it was very pretty. I’m sure Karou’s is, too. It might be petty, but I think it’s worth a wish.

The other . . . criticism? . . . I have is that I’m not totally positive who this narrator is. Taylor wrote the book in a very distant, omniscient third person, but that raises some questions for me because the narrator is obviously from Earth and American. The dialogue is American slang, even though, when the characters are even on Earth, they are in Prague, speaking Czech. Also, the devils in the book are part human, part animal. But . . . the only logical conclusions from the way the characters discuss the devils is that Earth is the reference point for their species. For example, a half-human, half-wolf dude is called that. A hummingbird with moth wings is called that. But, if you only grew up with a hummingbird with moth wings, and you had no reference-point in Earth, would you know that it’s wings belonged to something else? Wouldn’t you get to earth and say our hummingbirds are weird? So, at certain points, when characters were staring into each other’s eyes, I got to thinking about how the narrator is this teenage American girl behind the curtain. I just wanted her to out herself and be like, “I’m off shopping at a thrift store on weekends,” so that I could orient myself to the source of the story. That is over-analyzing, I know, but there were narrative pauses to think about stuff like that.

I loved how this book undermines. I love the fantasy and romance mythos that it breaths and destroys. I love that it looks straight in the face of what angels and devils could be, what they are, and what love is, in a cultural sense. I agree, but also disagree, with Taylor about one of the fundamentals of her world, but that is kind of a spoiler – I disagree that (view spoiler). But, in the way that magic is commerce in this story, and the way that is just factually true of industrial capitalism, I have to agree with Taylor. It is not a lecture in the way she presents that reality, but it is fundamental to the story in a respectable way. And I am left, days later, turning that fundamental over and pondering both sides of it.

So, you are obviously going to read this anyway, but I am here to tell you that I think you will not regret it. It’s got style and action, and then a kick to the gut in the end. Some of you will get hives from the middle of this book, and some will get hives from the end, and I think that is because the story is luring and elusive, but, really, only because it is actually being rather brutal the whole time.


I read an ARC copy of this, and it was lovely although the cover leaves something to be desired.

P.S. Ethnocentrism is no good, kids. Don't try it at home.
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Reading Progress

August 14, 2011 – Started Reading
August 14, 2011 – Shelved
August 19, 2011 –
page 420
August 19, 2011 – Shelved as: girls-rule
August 19, 2011 – Shelved as: young-adult
August 19, 2011 – Shelved as: utopia-dystopia
August 19, 2011 – Shelved as: pacific-northwest-glory
August 19, 2011 – Shelved as: motherless-daughters
August 19, 2011 – Shelved as: classic-young-adult
August 19, 2011 – Finished Reading
August 21, 2011 – Shelved as: slaves
August 21, 2011 – Shelved as: remember-that-conceptual-spoiler
August 27, 2011 – Shelved as: reviewed
May 9, 2012 – Shelved as: chosen-girls
July 6, 2012 – Shelved as: monsters
October 21, 2012 – Shelved as: want-a-hardcover-of-my-very-own

Comments (showing 1-29 of 29) (29 new)

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Flannery Ooooh, hope you love it!

Meredith Holley I hope I do too! So excited!

message 3: by Kay (new) - added it

Kay How did you get this? It's not published yet, is it?

Meredith Holley bwuhahahaha! I have my connections.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Obviously, I'm going to read this anyway.

It was less mocking and more offhandedly being an asshole.

Meredith Holley hahaha! I couldn't figure out a good way to write it, you know? Because if I said you said it offhandedly to her, I don't think it would be clear that it was a joke. Like, "Oh, thank you for asking. I do remember that." But, yes, offhandedly being an asshole is much more accurate. Can you, however, be a real asshole if it's funny, I ask you? Probably not. And that was damn funny.

Obviously, you're going to read this anyway.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

No, that's right. I'm okay being in a room with such talented ladies, even if I have to be an asshole to get there. :)

message 8: by Meredith (last edited Aug 22, 2011 08:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meredith Holley I'm pretty sure they were explicit that "being an asshole" was part of the skills requirement . . . so, umm, I'm sorry if you were misled, but at least you still got in.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)


Meredith Holley Thank you! Same here, I'm sure. Lips Touch was so lovely, and I was skeptical about this one for a lot of the experience, but the end makes me want to turn around and read it all over again.

message 11: by Meredith (last edited Aug 22, 2011 10:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meredith Holley Oh yes! Sequel guarantied. In a lot of ways, after the end, I think this book is almost written like a prequel if that makes sense. It is like the book where you should already know things and be experiencing the pathos throughout. I don't know. I feel like people typically write a book like this as a second or third book in a series, but it so works as a first book too. I guess I'm still thinking about it all. So interesting. I must meet her! And she lives in my state! But I will slip on banana peels and get pies in the face if I meet her because I am so awkward with that. Ack!

Flannery I'm a little embarrassed to say that I didn't think about the omniscient third-person narrator that much, but I did wonder why the writing and dialogue felt so American when they were in Prague. (and the other place) I guess I was too busy wondering about the teeth.
"The American teenager behind the curtain" is the perfect way to put it.

Meredith Holley I think there's a little bit of that in Lips Touch, but it was really the animal descriptions that kept making me think about it. I mean, maybe they had regular animals in the other world, too? I think we will find out a lot more about these things in the next book.

*fingers crossed!*

Eh?Eh! I want to read thiiiiis! I was surprised to learn where she lived, too.

message 15: by Meredith (last edited Aug 23, 2011 09:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meredith Holley I will send it to you asap! I can't believe I forgot to leave it with you! Will you read it while you're hood-to-coasting if I get it up there by then?

Eh?Eh! !!!!

I would, but if I'm going to see you again soon after that then just bring it with you then!

Meredith Holley Awww!!! I want to meet her!!!

Meredith Holley Eh?Eh! wrote: "!!!!

I would, but if I'm going to see you again soon after that then just bring it with you then!"

I think, at this point, this might be necessary, but we shall see.

Meredith Holley Elizabeth wrote: "Meredith wrote: "Awww!!! I want to meet her!!!"

Bet she'll do a reading at some Portland bookstore at some point..."

I was thinking exactly the same thing. Maybe after the book comes out and I can get my very own special copy and have it signed by her and gush and slip on a banana peel and stuff.

Meredith Holley This is one of the reasons I don't take pictures.

Eh?Eh! I'll make sure to be there, holding a camera.

Meredith Holley *shakes fist*

Also, I'm mailing it today to hopefully get there tomorrow! YAY!

Eh?Eh! EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!~!~!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

Yeah, hold that fist up, look angry, like a tiger, make love to the camera, that's it, come on!

Meredith Holley Thank you!

Rhiannon "I still think there could have been less 'their hearts were so one that they didn’t need to communicate with words'...I mean, at some point, the silent communication of soul mates is just not entertaining to read."

Agree, wholeheartedly.

"So, at certain points, when characters were staring into each other’s eyes, I got to thinking about how the narrator is this teenage American girl behind the curtain..."

Tee-hee...Brilliant observation on the narration, truly!

Ronyell Awesome review Sparrow! I loved this book also!

Meredith Holley thanks!

Ronyell Sparrow wrote: "thanks!"

You're welcome!

charles smith On

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