Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Things I Loved About Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

To most people Karou is the mysterious girl with blue hair who is an art student in Prague and disappears for days. While she never talks about her past or her travels, she does share her sketchbooks filled with magical creatures and stories. What her friends don't know is that she's living a double life where the monsters in her sketchbooks are real. And she spends her time helping in Brimstone's (a chimaera who is a blend of ram, lion, and raptor) workshop, running errands around the world for him, watching humans barter for magic, or chatting with Issa (the snake-like chimaera who helped raise her). But when Karou runs into Akiva, an angel who has a strange interest in the doors that lead to the chimaera lands, she feels a strange sense of familiarity for this creature she's never met before. Akiva also finds himself drawn back to the feisty human. As their pasts unwind, both Karou and Akiva will have to decide if they can remake the world they live in or if they'll succumb to the long-standing war between angel and chimaera kind.

Without further ado, 10 Things I Loved About Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

  1. The writing style: One of the reasons it took me so long to get around to this was that I had mixed reactions to Taylor's Lips Touch Three Times. But I think the novel is just a better medium for her. I love the voice. I love how distinct the characters and the characters' sections were, yet the omniscient narrator remained consistent. Not really sure how that worked!
  2. The Fairy Tale/Fable Intros: I'm not even sure how to classify this point as you can see from my weak attempt here. But I loved the way sections of the book were set up with the "Once upon a time..." conceits. It gave an eerie story-teller vibe that provided a continuity to the story and made the story seem more "real" to me. There was an eerie beauty to them (and yes, I know I said eerie twice now, but I like that aspect)
  3. The tone: This is purely a fantasy - something that can be hard to find (at least done well) in YA fiction. And even though there is a love story, it's somehow not the main purpose of the story. I'm not even sure how she did it! But Taylor manages to make it not about a teenager falling in love. And I won't say any more because I'm avoiding spoilers. Go read it!
  4. The pacing: This story unfolded slowly. And there were a few lengthy sections of exposition. It shouldn't have worked BUT IT DID. Brilliantly. This is one of those books where, if you try to describe it, you realize you're saying it has all of the things you "shouldn't do" and yet somehow it all coalesces into this gorgeous story.
  5. Zuzana: the "rabid fairy" friend of Karou. She's purely human and fully articulated as a character. I love her (and I just started reading the second book and her e-mails are my favorite thing ever).
  6. The names: I loved how creative and different the names were without being difficult to follow or remember. I think I remember these names better than most of the books I've read recently.
  7. The worldbuilding: It was done so well. I appreciate the other realm take on things and the history of the angel/chimaera conflict was provided with just enough detail for us to understand what's going on without being overwhelmed.
  8. The flashbacks: Could have gone so wrong, especially since the things in the flashbacks have direct correlations to things going on now. Being able to set up the story just right so the reader learns exactly what they need to learn just when it's needed without making them frustrated or feeling things are too obvious? So hard to do. Taylor does it.
  9. The big reveal: I tend to lose myself in books and not spend a lot of time thinking ahead or trying to figure things out, so I'm surprised more often than some people. But I loved the way everything was unraveled and the reveal was perfect and I immediately started thinking back to all the clues planted along the way that made everything come together.
  10. There are 2 more books! And because I took so long to get around to reading them, they're all out and I don't have to wait before reading the others :D
Happy reading!

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